PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 12:00am

Dano-Mast's connections are finding a world of difference in Hong Kong - not least in the volume of press coverage generated here by their pioneering visit.

The Flemming Poulsen-trained horse is the first Danish runner in Hong Kong, but interest in his Cup bid is almost non-existent back home. 'Hardly anyone in Denmark even realises we are here,' said Erik Arent Olesen, Denmark's most successful owner with three Derby winners there before Dano-Mast emerged as a genuine international horse.

'Racing in Denmark is very small - we have only 500 horses and one racecourse exclusively for flat racing - and it hardly gets any press or TV coverage,' Olesen added. 'Most people in Denmark look at a horserace and think it's 14 wild horses charging along.'

The Cup may be shown on TV in Denmark, but only if Olesen pays the fee for the signal to be beamed back home. 'The only way we'll get any coverage is if Dano-Mast wins. Then the newspapers will be interested because the prize-money is so huge here. In Denmark the prize-money for each raceday is only about $600,000 and even the Derby is only worth about $400,000.'

Olesen owns nine horses, making up more than half of Poulsen's string at Copenhagen racecourse. 'He could have more than 17 horses, but there is no room,' said Olesen, who runs a major plastics company in Denmark.

Poulsen, who has been training since 1976 and rides Dano-Mast at trackwork, said: 'Everything has been perfect for Dano-Mast. The track has felt fine and he won't mind if there is some rain [tomorrow]. I don't think he can win because Grandera is too good. But if Grandera and one or two of the others have a bad day, we might have a chance.

'I was happy to draw three because it will be better for him going into the first turn and he breaks really well, so he should get a good position. He needs to go a bit early as he stays a mile and a half and the only problem could be coming round the home turn because Dano-Mast has a long action.'

Dano-Mast earned his invitation to Hong Kong with two Group Two wins in France - the Prix Jean de Chaudenay over 2,400 metres in May 2001 and the 1,800-metre Prix Dollar on his last start 10 weeks ago. In the Dollar he beat subsequent Japan Cup Dirt winner Eagle Cafe into third, with the ageing Jim And Tonic back in fifth. 'It was very tough company the first time he ran in France, but we thought we should give it a try,' Poulsen said. 'Then we ran him in a Group One in France, but he had a very bad trip and the ground was too firm. I was happy with his last win and I hope he can hold that form because he always seems to be a better horse later in the year.'