HKIR Trackwork Report–Wednesday, December 5

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Sungrazer | HKJC photo

By Alan Carasso

HONG KONG–A heavily overcast sky hung over Sha Tin Racecourse and the surrounding mountains and the occasional raindrop fell, but none of that put any sort of damper on a busy window of activity in advance of Sunday’s Longines International Hong Kong Races.

Thursday is the day that the Japanese raiders typically strut their stuff, but some of the entrants from the island nation put in some impressive fast work Wednesday morning. Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) had Joao Moreira in the irons as the last-out winner of the G1 QE II Cup (2200m) covered her final 200m in :23 flat in the company of G1 Yasuda Kinen hero Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}), who was assigned the same time, but looked the slightly better of the two. Lys Gracieux faces the boys in G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m), while Mozu Ascot takes on Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile.

Deirdre (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who ran down Lys Gracieux when last seen in the G2 Fuchu Himba (1800m) in October, closed off 1000m of work in :23.2 under Christophe Lemaire galloping down the centre of the course, while Vivlos (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), striking in both colour (a registered black) and physical appearance, was home in a slick :22.6 nearer the stands’-side fence. Deirdre heads to the Cup, while Vivlos–the 2017 G1 Dubai Turf victrix–joins Mozu Ascot and the equally imposing Persian Knight (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) in the Mile. Based on her appearance Wednesday, it would not be surprising to see Vivlos return to her best form.

On bare form, Sungrazer (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) is the one to beat in the Cup and did nothing to dissuade any of the onlookers Wednesday morning. Fitted with a blue hood and earmuffs and with blue polos to match, the 4-year-old zipped his final quarter-mile in :22.4 and gives Moreira, who rides permanently in Hong Kong beginning Sunday, another live chance on the program. The ‘Magic Man’ won the 2016 Vase aboard Japan’s Satono Crown (Jpn) (Marju {Ire}).

Juddmonte Farms’ Mirage Dancer (GB) (Frankel {GB}) made a good impression visually Wednesday morning, galloping with good energy through the lane before heading through the tunnel and into the Sha Tin parade ring for a schooling session. Despite the presence of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Rostropovich (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Ryan Moore elects to retain his association with Mirage Dancer in the Vase, with whom he partnered to win the G2 Glorious S. in a strong staying effort in August.

Singapore’s Lim’s Cruiser (Aus) (Casino Prince {Aus}) was led onto the track from the quarantine stables by assistants on either side, each clad in royal-blue-and-gold polos bearing the logo of trainer Stephen Gray’s Copper Belt Racing. Lim’s Cruiser was restricted to the all-weather track Wednesday morning and looked right at home over the surface, bowling along alertly and with good energy. Winner of Singapore’s top sprint race, the Lion City Cup, earlier this season, Lim’s Cruiser will be ridden by Hugh Bowman in Sunday’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) concludes a long season in Sunday’s Vase and looked better than he did in the days leading up to the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf, in which he was fifth to Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}). Latrobe (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) is an attractive, long-barreled horse that has the unmistakable look of a stayer and will return to the 2400 metres of the Vase Sunday, having just missed in the G1 Mackinnon S. at Flemington Nov. 10.

Former HOTY Werther Out of Cup…

Werther (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}), a gallant runner-up to Time Warp (GB) (Archipenko) in last year’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup, has been declared from the race after a veterinary examination revealed a “a slightly thickened and reactive right front medial suspensory branch,” according to a release from the Hong Kong Jockey Club. A further scan of the right fore confirmed the injury to the medial branch of the suspensory ligament, necessitating the scratching.

Winner of the 2016 Hong Kong Derby and the G1 QE II Cup over the Sha Tin 2000 metres, Werther was set to have his third run of the season Sunday, having finished a useful seventh behind stablemate and G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile favourite Beauty Generation (NZ) in the G3 Sha Tin Trophy H. in October ahead of an improved third to his barn companion Eagle Way (Aus) (More Than Ready) in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup Nov. 18.

 

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