Biancone plans sales raid
It will be business as usual at two of the world's major salesrings for suspended trainer Patrick Biancone, who yesterday confirmed he would leave Hong Kong shortly for Keeneland.
The Kentucky sales start on Monday and Biancone, suspended by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for 10 months following positive drug samples, will be bidding for some of the cream of this year's crop.
He said yesterday: 'I have, as usual, planned for some time to be at Keeneland and I will be leaving Hong Kong soon to go there.
'I am still thinking things over and am not quite ready to make any statement just yet. But it will be soon.' The 47-year-old French trainer is noted for his buying skills and Hong Kong owners will continue to enjoy the fruits of his expertise.
Biancone is also expected at Europe's premier sale, the Irish National Yearling Sales at Goffs, in the first few days of next month.
As Biancone began to adjust to life minus the day-to-day routine of running a top racing stable, at least four trainers sought out leading owner Dr Thomas Liang Ting-sen with offers to train Hong Kong Derby winner Johan Cruyff.
'I would like to thank them for their interest. They are professionals and they obviously appreciate a good horse,' said Liang.
'At the moment, Johan Cruyff will stay with Steve Lee who has been appointed by the Jockey Club to run the stable on a temporary basis. I would like to give him a chance although there are no immediate plans to run Johan Cruyff.' One of the most powerful owners in the stable, Liang laid out $5 million at the Easter Yearling sales in Sydney with Biancone recommending - and buying.
Liang, like most of Biancone's owners, was coming to terms yesterday with racing life minus the trainer.
'I feel very sorry. I do not know what happened but I really do wish him well in the future,' he said.
Biancone is likely to go to Goffs with long-time friend and owner Jorge D'Almeida, who bought Partipral after it won the International Vase and has horses in Ireland and Europe - all bought with the Biancone stamp of approval.
'He has a great eye for horses and we have bought a lot together. I expect to be going to Ireland with him again this year. I feel very sad about it all but I just don't have any real idea what has been happening - only what I have read,' said D'Almeida.
'He is a good friend and I will certainly continue to support him. I hope he can get a licence back here. In the meantime, I don't expect to be moving my horse because Steve Lee is a nice young man whom I know quite well through my association with Patrick,' added D'Almeida who races Partiking, a maiden griffin from last season who is now in Class Three.
While Biancone remains silent about his future plans, he is not likely to be short of support when it comes to buying young horses. He is an acknowledged expert in picking and training youngsters and has his own farm in Normandy. Apart from his major owners, he can expect support from at least two other trainers.
'He has brought in some very good young horses and I would be more than ready to have him buy for me - at the right price,' said one trainer yesterday morning.
Amid the normal hustle and bustle of a busy trials morning at Sha Tin, there was a discernible air of retreating shock and more than a shade of gloom.
Biancone has always been popular with the large media corps and rarely refused an interview. The debonair figure was missing yesterday and it was difficult coming to terms with the fact that he is unlikely to be livening up trackwork again.