QE II faces rough passage to success

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 12:00am

Many of Hong Kong's myriad racing journalists must be flush with pride to learn their work is so influential following Brian Kan Ping-chee's comments this week.

Did the owner of Industrial Pioneer really prefer to scratch the horse from the QE II Cup rather than heed the advice of his trainer after reading press reports that Gerald Mosse had not been overjoyed with the gelding's action after trackwork?

Nevertheless, the 2001 Derby hero is not running and we must cool our heels for his next appearance. By and large, the locals are intact, but the overall trials and tribulations of keeping the QE II Cup field together have showed that, if anything, joining the World Series at this time of year is no easy matter.

The quality Arab horses are plentiful enough for Godolphin to have a runner in anything, anytime, and the Arab owners support the World Series concept vigorously, but they are not where the trouble lies.

The European season is still young, so the attraction of French, British and Irish runners is not a simple task. To run in Hong Kong and do themselves justice, they must be ready very early and connections need to take the chance that their horses will still have a peak to reach even after Hong Kong.

And the Americans are almost impossible to attract at the best of times, although Hong Kong officials are optimistic there may be an opening by targeting those horses which race through the winter in Florida and will therefore be fit and ready. Or they might have had enough.

The Australian and New Zealand horses would normally come here - or not, as demonstrated by Shogun Lodge and Sunline - when they have been through the mill at the big Sydney Easter racing.

Fortunately, this year Universal Prince has been an exception to that rule in having been aimed at Hong Kong and Singapore.

The good Japanese horses are probably the easiest to attract after sweeping the floor with everyone in December, but the timing of Dubai and Hong Kong has still placed some solid demands on Agnes Digital, for instance, demands that not all owners and trainers might want to make. So, although the QE II Cup might have some critics arguing the field has dropped right away, being able to line up five foreign horses of international Group One standard is not a bad trick at this stage of the calendar, all things considered.

Big prize-money, high international standing and World Series points are all good reasons to be here, though you get the feeling it's going to be an even tougher battle to turn the QE II meeting into an international highlight card than it has been with the December meeting.

The Champions Mile is ready to join any Asian or world circuit that might emerge for horses of that type, possibly including the Yasuda Kinen and a current non-international Singapore feature, the Kranji Mile. The Chairman's Sprint Prize sits as an ideal short course twin to the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore or maybe the Keio Hai Spring Cup in Japan.

The framework is all there but, as we have seen in the past two weeks with the cascading QE II Cup dropouts, having the races does not necessarily mean you get the wish list of horses there as well.