Right Approach baffled by clockwise course
Mike de Kock-trained Right Approach posed as many questions as he answered when he galloped at Sha Tin yesterday morning ahead of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
A last-start dead-heater with QE II Cup rival Paolini in the Dubai Duty Free (1,777 metres) on World Cup night, Right Approach looked very new to the right-handed way of going as he pulled and reefed his way around the all-weather track under race jockey Weichong Marwing.
A casual observer might have concluded that the clockwise direction was going to be an issue for Right Approach on Sunday and Jehan Malherbe, the South Africa-based agent who put together the ownership syndicate, was unable to shed much light on that.
'He may have raced that way in England but as long as Mike's had him he's been in Dubai, where of course it's left handed, so I couldn't be sure,' he said.
'He has been a horse with a multitude of problems and if he wasn't, we probably wouldn't have been able to get him.
'His last couple of runs for Michael Stoute were terrible in England before [De Kock] took him over in Dubai. He's just generally unsound. The horse requires constant attention and nursing and it really has been a fantastic training feat by Mike to get him back into this sort of form.'
Although Right Approach will race representing South Africa, he has never been inside the country, proceeding straight to Dubai after his purchase in the United Kingdom, and he may be destined for a nomadic existence if he continues his racing career.
One Jockey Club vet yesterday noted that the horse sickness problem in South Africa at present would most likely have prevented Right Approach making any overseas tours at all had he been there.
The ownership syndicate Malherbe assembled includes leading South African owners Bernard Kantor, who had Dupont here to run in the Hong Kong Mile in 2002, and Mary Slack, of the Oppenheimer family, as well as high profile professional golfer Lee Westwood.
'Actually, Lee is very active in horse racing and has a number of horses. I bought him a Derby winner here in South Africa which later raced over jumps in Britain and he also owned Emerald Beauty, this season's 1,000 Guineas winner,' Malherbe added.
'Unfortunately, he's playing golf in America this week so he won't be at Sha Tin but I can tell you he was straight on the phone after the Dubai race and I expect it will be the same this Sunday.'
The Jockey Club Licensing Committee has released Irish jockey Wayne Smith from the last seven weeks of his Club jockey contract this season.
Smith will finish up after he rides at Sha Tin next Wednesday after requesting an early release due to a job he has secured in the United States.
Smith had been planning to take up the position at the finish of the Hong Kong season but told the Club he has now been advised to take up the post as soon as possible.