where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2009-04-21 08:59:16  

Hong Kong's leading trainer John Moore professed himself delighted with Tuesday's trackwork by Viva Pataca, the likely favourite for the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup this weekend.

Ridden by regular rider Darren Beadman, Viva Pataca worked on the all weather track with work companion Grand Cru in his final serious hit-out for the race he won two years ago. Turf Timers clocked the final 400m at 22.7 sec.

"Darren said it was just about the best work he's ever done on the dirt. He's never really enjoyed that surface as much as the turf so to have worked so well in the lead-up to the big race on Sunday is very encouraging," Moore reported.

"I've been very happy with his preparation and he came out of the Chairman's Trophy over the mile last time very well indeed. He's fresh and well and if he gets some luck on Sunday he'll be right there as he always is."

In 2007 Moore added the Champions Mile to Viva Pataca's APQEII success with Able One and he has a live chance of repeating the feat this year via Collection, the impressive victor of last month's Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby.

The fact that Collection drops back in distance by two furlongs does not overly concern Moore who likened the Peintre Celebre's gelding turn of foot to "a Ferrari moving up the gears."

"I worked him at the weekend and he was terrific – he broke 11 seconds for his final 200m. He can really shift and I think he'll be able to test Good Ba Ba over the mile. I'll probably give him one more piece tomorrow or the next day," Moore concluded.

It's probably quite instructive that Good Ba Ba's trainer Andreas Schutz rates Collection as the biggest danger between the Horse of the Year's seventh career Gr.1 and second successive Champions Mile.

Good Ba Ba's final searching gallop prior to Sunday's third leg of the Asian Mile Challenge came on Monday on the turf and Schutz said the work was more than up to scratch for the race that will in all likelihood be his final assignment of the season.

"Everything is on schedule. I've had no hitches with him and we're back up to the mile and he has ten wins at the course and distance. I guess he's still the one to beat but I would rate Collection as a big danger. His Derby win was excellent and he has the pace to cope with coming back in distance," Schutz said.

The former Hong Kong-based but now Australian-trained Dao Dao sizzled in his workout on the turf course this morning and it is likely to be his final strong gallop before Sunday's Champions Mile.

The powerfully built five-year-old rounded off his gallop in a solid 49.6 sec for the last 800m but it was his final 400m split of 21.9 sec which attracted attention and he looked comfortable in the process.

"That's probably all he needs now in terms of fast work for the week," said co-trainer Michael Hawkes of the horse who was a Class 1 winner in Hong Kong last year when prepared by John Size.

Australia's Audemars Piguet QEII Cup contender Niconero also returns to Hong Kong but, unlike Dao Dao, he does so for the second time as a visitor.

The seven-year-old, prepared by one-time Hong Kong based trainer David Hayes, was 12th in the 2006 Champions Mile won by Bullish Luck.

This time around he tackles the longer race and his recent fourth placing in the Dubai Duty Free suggests he's now coping better with travel. To that end, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has assisted the Hayes team by providing the recently retired Hong Kong horse Triumph as a stable companion for Niconero who is inclined to fret, according to his trainer, when unaccompanied.

Niconero this morning worked on the all weather track quickening from the 1200m over which he ran in 1 min 18.5 sec with the last 400m in 23.1 seconds. "He's feeling good," said track rider Lizzie Jelfs who also looked after the horse during his previous visit to Hong Kong.

Frankie Dettori won't be arriving in town until the end of the week but his Champions Mile contender Alexandros looked muscled up and ready for serious action when cantering around the all-weather track. Partnered by former British-based jockey John Bramhill, he left Godolphin's representative Claire Sparkes speaking positively about the horse's chance.

"He really thrived in Dubai winning twice and then running a cracking third in the Dubai Duty Free. We're hopeful and we certainly think that he deserves a crack at this Group One prize."

The Mike De Kock-trained duo of Archipenko (APQEII Cup) and Imbongi (pictured) (Champions Mile) were out on the turf track together for a solid work out that delighted De Kock's assistant trainer Stephen Jell. Kevin Shea was aboard Archipenko as usual, while Imbongi had the assistance of fellow South African jockey Jeff Lloyd in the saddle.

The pair worked upsides and stopped the clock over 1200m in 1 min 11.8 sec with the final 400m in a solid 22.0 sec - all this with the trademark yellow headgear of Archipenko being left off on this occasion. "I'm very happy with that," was Jell's succinct comment afterwards.

The most recent arrival in the International Quarantine barn, the Luca Cumani trained Presvis, who arrived at Sha Tin on Monday afternoon, was not seen out on the track but had a quiet morning in the trotting ring. Cumani flew to Dubai last weekend to supervise Presvis's final gallop at Nad al Sheba, and was more than happy with the work, according to Mark Player, HKJC's Head of International Races, Sale & Development.

The French challenger Chinchon from the stable of Carlos Laffon-Parias looked particularly fresh and well as he put in a routine canter on the all weather track. He was on his toes and seemed keen to do more than he was asked, and assistant trainer Stephane Duprey confirmed his wellbeing.


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