HKIR Trackwork Report–Thursday: Will Sunday Be ‘Knight’s’ Day?

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Persian Knight | AC photo

By Alan Carasso

HONG KONG–The sun continued to play hide and seek Thursday morning at Sha Tin, but with the barrier draw conducted just after 11 a.m., there was a noticeably more sizeable crowd on hand as Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong International Races drew ever closer.

As was reported in Thursday’s TDN, a good many of the nine Japanese raiders were given a searching gallop through the final 400 metres of the Sha Tin turf course, and once again Thursday morning, it was a member of that contingent that turned in the day’s most eyecatching piece of work.

They all face a tall task in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile against reigning Horse of the Year Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}), but Persian Knight (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) suggested that he is not going to go down without a fight with a powerful move down the straight that was clocked in :22.3 for the final 400 metres. The burly dark bay, whose owners G1 Racing Co. will also be represented by Sungrazer (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup, exits a troubled runner-up effort in the G1 Mile Championship S. at Kyoto Nov. 18, the same event used as a steppingstone to Hong Kong Mile success by Hat Trick (Jpn) (Sunday Silence) in 2005 and again by Maurice (Jpn) (Screen Hero {Jpn}) in 2015. Like Hat Trick, Persian Knight–and Sungrazer–are bred by Oiwake Farm.

Also blowing out was Staphanos (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who has his swansong run in the Cup. The 7-year-old, third to Maurice in the 2016 Cup, went 800m in :49.5, with a final quarter-mile in a sparkling :21.2. He makes his fourth career start in the Cup and fifth appearance overall at Sha Tin Sunday.

The two entrants in Sunday’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase exiting the G1 Melbourne Cup each took to the turf course Thursday morning. Prince of Arran (GB) (Shirocco {Ger}) was an outstanding third in the Flemington feature backing up on three days’ rest off a victory in the G3 Lexus S. The 5-year-old looked bright and alert coming through the stretch at a good clip and his busy schedule looks to have taken nothing out of him. Prince of Arran is the subject of a feature story in Sunday’s TDN Europe/International. Wayne Lordan was in the plate on Rostropovich (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), one of three runners at the meet for his boom sire. Just 1 1/2 lengths in back of Prince of Arran in fifth in Melbourne, the 3-year-old also looked well despite two runs in Australia and a ship back to Ireland before coming to Hong Kong.

Ron Arculli served the Hong Kong Jockey Club as its chairman from 2002 to 2006 and celebrated one of his proudest moments as an owner when his beloved Red Cadeaux (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}) won the 2012 Vase. Red Verdon (Lemon Drop Kid) carries the Arculli powder blue and red silks Sunday and the 5-year-old entire appeared well within himself in a spin over the Sha Tin all-weather track Thursday morning. James Doyle rides for Red Cadeaux’s trainer Ed Dunlop, who sent out Ouija Board (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}) to victory in the 2005 Vase.

Beat the Bank (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}) will be a decided outsider in Sunday’s Mile–to be fair, most of the field will be as well–and represents the Andrew Balding stable, successful with Phoenix Reach (Ire) (Alhaarth {Ire}) in the 2004 Vase. Winner of seven of 13 lifetime and four at group level, the bay stretched out nicely beneath big-race rider Oisin Murphy.

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