Top trainers can't see past cityscape for mile
The discussion at yesterday's BMW Champions Mile barrier draw seemed to be centred less around the draw itself than about the time and margin that would be posted by Dubai Duty Free winner Cityscape, with both John Moore and John Size conceding the English horse may simply be too good.
No foreign visitor has taken out the Champions Mile in its brief international history, but Moore said: 'After Cityscape's absolute annihilation of everyone in Dubai, he might do the same thing Rulership did to us in the QE II Cup a week ago. If he's anywhere near his Dubai form, we won't get near him.'
Glorious Days came out with the ideal No6 alley in a race Size won in an upset five years ago with Sight Winner, but the trainer said he was only 'hopeful'.
'That draw looks okay - there's never a lot of speed in these races and that's always something I'm concerned about, but Glorious Days will have options from there whether it's fast or slow,' Size said. 'I'm hopeful but I think Cityscape looks too good. His rating suggests it and so does what we've seen of him. I'd expect him to win.'
Cityscape's trainer Roger Charlton has commitments at Newmarket's 2000 Guineas meeting tomorrow and won't arrive until Sunday, however he commented positively on his No 7 draw using Twitter: 'Much better draw for Cityscape in Hong Kong than in December', recalling the six-year-old's desperately unlucky second to Able One after racing four wide all the way from gate 12.
The baldy faced stallion will be making his third international trip in five months but he left the likes of Xtension and Ambitious Dragon so far in his wake at Meydan that Moore was struggling for confidence, despite having five of the 14 runners and none drawn outside nine.
Destined For Glory (two), Sunny King (three) and Admiration (five) came up with low gates and defending Champions Mile hero Xtension (eight) and dual winner Able One (nine) were not badly served.
'I think the old man, Able One, is my best,' Moore said. 'He'll race on the pace and out of trouble and if he can get a soft lead, they have to run him down. Admiration worked stylishly this morning and he might be the dark horse.'
Xtension was also unlucky in the Hong Kong Mile and raced well enough if below his very best for fifth in Dubai, but Moore said he was jaded after the travel: 'My assistant tells me Xtension is better every day, but I've told the owner the horse won't be 100 per cent like last year.'
Godolphin's African Story offers an extra pace dimension to the race away from Able One and Beauty Flash and trainer Saeed bin Suroor had no issue with gate 10: 'He has good speed and I think we can take any kind of position in the race, but if we sit just behind the speed I think we would be happy with that.'
Caspar Fownes was another trainer absent yet his poor luck in such matters continued when his two entries pulled out gates 13 (Fair Trade) and 14 (Lucky Nine).
'It's unreal, every international Lucky Nine seems to be 12, 12, 12, apart from the one he won in December, when he was drawn six,' said Fownes, who colourfully described the result along the lines of a 'double prostate exam'. 'When the message came through, I thought, 'There you go, we'll have to do it the hard way again'.'
Australian visitor Peter Moody was comfortable with 11 for King's Rose: 'My owner told me double one is lucky. She'll be ridden conservatively, I'd be happy to see her midfield, three wide with some cover.'
It would be hard to imagine 2011 Horse Of the Year Ambitious Dragon performing worse than he has in his two international runs this term, but the Dubai failure drew suitably in four, although his trainer Tony Millard offered no comment.