Irish duo in Cup tango
Irish-bred stayers Supreme Bases and Desert Fox could dominate the final stages of the Queen Mother's Cup at Sha Tin tonight with a winning preference going marginally to the former.
Desert Fox has not been seen in action since the Hong Kong Derby where the 1,800 metres of the Classic was on the short side for him.
Mick Kinane rode Desert Fox, who finished third in the Curragh equivalent in soft ground, and finished just over five lengths from shock winner, Holy Grail.
Trainer David Oughton, who mapped out tonight's event for Desert Fox as the major target after the Derby, has put plenty of effort into getting the four-year-old right for this Class One event over the genuine Classic trip.
However, there has been a lengthy gap between races and it may be that Desert Fox just feels the pinch in the concluding stages. But on his overseas form he does have a strong chance.
Some of his Hong Kong runs have been good enough to suggest that he has acclimatised which has clearly not been the case with another Irish import, Impressionist.
He is also a top of the ground horse who looked ideal material for Hong Kong when bought by Patrick Biancone but he has been disappointing to date and is best avoided tonight.
Supreme Bases was another who found 1,800 metres too short last time.
Unlike most Irish horses, Supreme Bases is not that keen on softish ground so trainer David Hill is hoping that the heavens won't open for this fellow.
'His better form has been on good ground and he would not like it soft. There has been a lot of rain around and it is a bit of a worry, although I think it would only really matter if it came down during the meeting,' said Hill.
The former champion trainer feels that the 2,400 metres will be a slight test for one of his stable stars, but said: 'He is certainly fit enough and I have done my best to get weight off his back by engaging Roger Yu.
'The five pounds brings that vital bit of weight off his back and the lad can ride. I am confident on that score,' added Hill.
Supreme Bases looked in need of the run two starts back over 2,000 metres but looked good in finishing three and a half lengths off Indigenous in the Hong Kong Gold Cup.
For a couple of strides it looked as if he might mix it with the best there is here but he did not get on terms, leaving the impression that full race fitness would have seen him make the race a more interesting one.
If he does handle the distance - and there are those who believe he will be at his best over this trip - Supreme Bases will take plenty of beating.
He has to contend with the Patrick Biancone-trained Ho Ho who won well last time over a mile and looks ready now to tackle 2,400 metres. He has won over 2,000 metres and is still a rising star of the staying ranks. Ho Ho will go close.
The one who could tip them all out is Win For Lily from the Ivan Allan stable who would not mind cut in the ground and produced a quality run to win by a head in lesser company last time.
This is the hardest field he has tackled, but Win For Lily is in tip-top form at the back end of the season and is a nap to get the trip.
With such a light weight on his back and the 'Demon' Douglas Whyte aboard, Win For Lily is a top chance and must be taken in quinellas and tierce bets.
Golden Duke, En Rapport and Fat Choy Together all have it to do while Privilege is really not near what he was although the distance will be strongly in his favour.