Top class filly King's Rose - bred in New Zealand, trained in Australia and Hong Kong-owned - worked on the turf course for the first time this morning with trainer Peter Moody on hand to assess her condition leading into Sunday's BMW Champions Mile.
Moody, fresh from preparing champion sprinter Black Caviar to her 20th win from as many starts in Adelaide last Saturday, arrived in Hong Kong last night and was delighted with King's Rose. "She seems much more contented than the other horses in the international barn and she looks well. Her work was good and, in general, I'm happy with her," he said.
Moody, the champion trainer by big margins in Victoria over the past two seasons, is optimistic about the prospects of King's Rose and an international win would cap another stellar year headlined by Black Caviar and the former Luca Cumani-trained Manighar whom he has prepared to take the Group 1 treble of the Australian Cup, Ranvet Stakes and The BMW.
"King's Rose is not here for practice. My belief is that she can win. My expectation is that, at least, she'll be running very well. She's in great shape and her form is good enough I think. We rode her upside down last time, pushing forward to sit outside the leader and we towed More Joyous into the race," he said referring to King's Rose finishing 2.7 lengths 3rd behind More Joyous in the G1 Queen of The Turf Stakes on 7 April. More Joyous then beat Manighar in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
"And the start before she was beaten in a three way photo in the Coolmore (Classic) when she couldn't quite find the best part of the track. She was inside the two that beat her who were in the better ground," said Moody who came to Hong Kong in 1990, when foreman for trainer Bill Mitchell, with Livistona Lane who was second to Kessem in the Hong Kong Invitation Cup.
King's Rose has won eight of her 20 career starts and boasts three wins and two seconds from five runs at 1600 metres. "She's a great miler, this is her distance but she's also capable over further. I still swear and declare that but for bad luck she should have won last year's Cox Plate," Moody said.
"A bit of both," Moody responded when asked whether King's Rose was in Hong Kong because of the wet tracks in Sydney or because she's owned here, "It looked like the track was going to be very heavy for the Doncaster so we pulled her out with this in mind. We'd always brooched a trip to Europe with her so coming to Hong Kong's a good stepping stone. As long as she runs well on Sunday, she'll head on to the UK," he said.
King's Rose, with Sharleen Gardner in the saddle, worked over 1200 metres in a leisurely 1m 28.4s but picked up the pace at the close of the gallop to run her last 400m in 24.7 seconds.
Stable jockey Luke Nolen will fly to Hong Kong after riding at the Gold Coast in Queensland on Saturday. He rides for Moody in the two feature races at that meeting - Mid Summer Music in the Prime Minister's Cup and Lights Of Heaven in the Hollindale Stakes.
King's Rose's owner Dr Gene Tsoi, who was on hand to see her work this morning, hopes that the late decision to re-route the four-year-old to the BMW Champions Mile does pay off.
"I'm very pleased that she has come here and I'm looking forward to the race," he said. "It was a last minute decision when I was in Sydney and the rain came, which made the track wet, and I had received an invitation from the Jockey Club to run here. So with the weather there being unpredictable at the time, we decided that the horse could come to Hong Kong."
The Roger Charlton-trained Dubai Duty Free winner Cityscape stretched his legs on the all-weather track this morning. His work is being supervised by Charlie Henson who's been a frequent visitor to Hong Kong looking after Luca Cumani's horses.
"He can be a bit temperamental this fellow," Henson said of Cityscape, "but he's doing well. He's eating up and drinking no problem. He had his last piece of fast work in England so won't be doing much on the track here. His weight's good and we're happy with him. After a 24-hour door to door trip from the UK, he's coped pretty well."
The John Moore-trained Xtension was the one local BMW Champions Mile contender to venture on to the turf track this morning and he looked sharp as he zipped home the last 400 metres in 22.8 seconds.