Kinane elects to give Dubai a wide berth
IRISH ace Mick Kinane won't be riding in the World Cup in Dubai on Wednesday. Kinane was due to partner the Clive Brittain-trained outsider, Needle Gun, in the world's richest race which is taking on a rather weary look with defections - equine more than human - weakening it as a spectacle. Kinane talked with representatives of Godolphin on Friday night and the mutual conclusion reached was that the hike to Dubai would be, in essence, a wasted journey for the Irishman. With Pennekamp out and Jeune retired, it is very much up to Cigar to fly the flag for the race which has not captured the public imagination worldwide.
Needle Gun, who ran very well in the International Vase when beaten by the now sidelined Partipral, is considered to have no hope in the sand spectacular. A number of telegrams of congratulation fluttered their way to Brisbane on Friday. Recipient was former Hong Kong-based but world-travelled jockey, Brent Thomson, who officially tied the knot with Samantha Baring. Hong Kong friends of the rider can expect to see him through here in the next couple of weeks. Although officially pondering his future, the gilt-edged tip is that Brent will be back in Newmarket within the month. Samantha has been living at British racing headquarters in the eastern England town for the past 12 years.
Local owners Gabriel D'Azedo and Archie da Silva will soon he having dreams of Melbourne Cup glory. Shatin Heights, now a five-year-old, went wrong after early success in New Zealand but is now very much back on the track. The evidence of that came at Flemington yesterday when Shatin Heights won the feature race on the card. The Duke of Norfolk Stakes was worth HK$550,000 and Shatin Heights, joining in at the 300-metre mark ran right away with the 3,200-metre event. Long-range plans include the Melbourne Cup which is run over yesterday's distance. It would appear that the winning effort of Be A Friend at Happy Valley recently was not overly appreciated by connections of the horse.
Be A Friend returned, as they say in racing, friendless and is no longer trained by John Moore. The horse moved late last week to Lawrie Fownes. Popular Alex Wong Siu-tan was on the receiving end recently, too, acquiring Concert Boss and Concert Fortune from Tony P.H. Chan who has had a good season. The changes are interesting in that both men are applying for permission to retain a stable jockey next season and need stable numbers to back up their respective applications. Wong has certainly been beavering around and is expecting some more additions. In the case of the Concert horses this was, in footballing terms, a six-pointer.
Personable Swedish rider Fredrik Johansson and wife Anna are fitting comfortably into the local scene - even though the Scandinavian champion has been on the sidelines for a week. But all is well and he will return to the fray next Saturday. The elbow and knee injured in the fall from The Lobbos are recovering well. And here's one for a Hong Kong racing trivia quiz in a couple of years time. Which jockey rode River Verdon in his last race? Answer: F. Johansson.