Sapio to lead Kiwis' raid on Hong Kong silverware
The Kiwis are set to make a bold bid to add to their recent International Cup triumphs with Kessem and Romanee Conti with the improving stayer, Sapio, who is the dark horse in tomorrow's $4.5 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
Yesterday's rain will not have helped the chances of likely favourite Overbury, who did look in fantastic shape during yesterday's trackwork session, but all ground comes alike to Sapio.
The son of Vice Regal, who is also the sire of local challenger Helene Star, has won 11 of his 38 careers starts over the last two-and-a-half seasons on ground ranging from firm to heavy.
He has also won from 1,200 metres to 3,200 metres and is a typically tough and versatile New Zealand-bred representing all that is good with the breeding industry down there.
Yesterday his jockey Brian Hibberd was very upbeat about his mount's chances and said: 'He's done everything right and we're really wrapped with how he has handled the journey.
'He is used to travelling as he's been on a couple of trips to race in Brisbane and just takes it all in his stride. Nothing worries him and he looks a picture and has put back on most of the weight he lost on the flight from Sydney.' Hibberd, 37, and a former VRC Derby and Brisbane Cup winner, went on to point out: 'I don't know about the other international runners but if this were a handicap at home he'd be on about 57 kilos and the other Australian and New Zealand runners would be on 53 or 52.
'So he comes in pretty well at the weights and he won't mind what the ground is.
'We've also drawn well in barrier six so we can do what we want from there and won't get caught up in any scrimmaging on the inside.' Hibberd's sentiments are shared by none other than multiple New Zealand champion jockey Lance O'Sullivan who is due to ride the other Kiwi challenger, Sam McGuire.
'I had a look at Sapio yesterday morning and he looked well - really, really good. I'm sure he will be competitive,' O'Sullivan said.