Bring 'em on, says Allan of Breeders' Cup hotshots
Trainer Ivan Allan yesterday welcomed all-comers to tackle Fairy King Prawn in the Hong Kong Mile on December 16 as he revealed a repeat of last year's campaign plan for the dual Horse of the Year. Fairy King Prawn will do battle with crack speedster King Of Danes in the Sprint Trial Trophy at Sha Tin on November 25 as his prep for the International meeting, where he is likely to face the first three from last weekend's Breeders' Cup Mile as well as a possible rematch with last year's winner Sunline.
'I'm not worried, I think it's great,' Allan said yesterday of the potential opposition in the Mile. 'You've got to run against the top horses - that's what this kind of racing is all about.'
The US-trained Val Royal and Forbidden Apple filled the first two places in the Breeders' Cup Mile, with Aidan O'Brien's Bach in third, and all three are being aimed at Sha Tin, according to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. 'The owner and trainer of Val Royal are very keen to come to Hong Kong and, while the horse is also in the Cup, they have told us they would prefer the Mile,' said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Club's director of racing. 'Forbidden Apple finished fourth in the Cup last year but it seems they have reassessed their horse and would prefer to run at 1,600 metres.'
The selected overseas runners for the four International races are due to be announced on Saturday week, and Club officials are involved in intensive negotiations to secure the best possible representation. Preliminary indications are that the Mile could also feature Noverre, the beaten Breeders' Cup Mile favourite on Saturday, and his Godolphin stablemate Slickly, a Group One winner in each of his last two starts, along with Japanese sprinter-miler Trot Star.
And Engelbrecht-Bresges said the Club was taking encouragement from the connections of Sunline, who defeated Fairy King Prawn by a short-head in last year's Mile. 'Some of the people we have spoken to about the International meeting want more time to see how their horses have come out of the races at the weekend,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'Obviously, Sunline had a tough race in the Cox Plate but they have not ruled out the possibility that she will come back to defend her Hong Kong Mile title. We are very hopeful at this stage.'
Allan has always said he believed Fairy King Prawn could win a Breeders' Cup Mile and the event is shaping as a stage on which to prove the point, as it promises more depth than last year's race. The Sprint Trial Trophy should provide a mouthwatering appetiser for the main course as Fairy King Prawn moves back to the minimum trip to face King Of Danes, who just touched off the champion in the same race last year when receiving 22 pounds. Trainer Tony Cruz has targeted the handicap for King Of Danes' seasonal debut en route to the Hong Kong Sprint, in which he finished third to Falvelon last year.
Fairy King Prawn set a course record for 1,400 metres on his reappearance in the National Day Cup on October 1, but Allan has no qualms about the drop in distance. 'He would have had too hard a run the other day in the Sha Tin Trophy over the mile with a big weight,' he said. 'You can bring them to their peak too early. It's much better for Fairy King Prawn if I can give him a trial and then run him at 1,000 metres.'
With no grass trials scheduled which fit with Fairy King Prawn's programme, Allan was yesterday lobbying Club officials to put on a couple of grass barrier trials on Friday week. Engelbrecht-Bresges said the Club was consulting other trainers to see if there was enough demand to justify the move.