Partner to make a Perfect bid for Mile
Perfect Partner gets the chance to stake his claim to be part of the hometown defence of this year's $14 million Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin tomorrow, where he heads weights with 133 pounds in the feature event, the $2 million Panasonic Cup (1,400 metres).
Perfect Partner has been prominent on everyone's shortlist as an international contender since the autumn, when his efforts included a third to Tiber and Lucky Owners in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile in February.
The Australian-bred has had two races since resuming from a spell and has gone around with zero luck in both instances.
'On the first occasion, he was badly blocked for a run, which was highlighted in the stewards' report, and last start he definitely should have finished closer - at least fourth or fifth,' trainer Caspar Fownes said.
'I really think he's in very good form coming into this race. I'm sure he's going to run a big race, even with the big weight [133 pounds].'
Perfect Partner's final preparatory gallop was held on the all-weather track on Tuesday morning, with the five-year-old running 800 metres in 48.7 seconds, the final 400 metres in 23.4.
Fownes is due for a change of luck himself. Apart from the interference that Perfect Partner has suffered in each of his two runs this preparation, the sophomore trainer had three photo-finish seconds at Sha Tin last week.
The worst of them was The Duke's nose defeat in the HSBC Premier Vase - a photo finish Fownes actually thought had gone his way.
David Hayes is double handed in the race, with his first line of attack being ultra-consistent Planet Ruler (Gerald Mosse), who backs up following an out-of-luck sixth to Multidandy in last week's HSBC Premier Vase, when the gaps closed at the wrong time.
Planet Ruler has a formidable course-and-distance record over the Sha Tin 1,400-metres circult, having been tried there 13 times for four wins and five minor placings.
Hayes also has progressive galloper Good Profit in the Panasonic Cup, to be ridden by Brett Prebble, who steered Hayes' most important winner of the season so far - Ain't Here in the Group Three Sha Tin Trophy on October 17.
Good Profit was a last-start winner under topweight of 128 in Class Two company on October 3, when having only his second local start.
British-bred Ho Choi will have his first run for the Sean Woods yard, and made a positive impression in winning a barrier trial over 1,200 metres on the all-weather track last Friday.
The five-year-old has been placed once from four attempts over the 1,400 metres course but is a weight-for-age miler at his best and his performance for Woods, at his first outing since leaving the care of Ivan Allan, will be watched with interest.
The Panasonic Cup also features the return to racing of royally-bred Danehill gelding Roosevelt, who ran a cracking fourth in last year's Hong Kong Vase at the end of his three-year-old season but finished at the tail in Lucky Owners' Hong Kong Derby.
The Jockey Club has arranged to show racing fans the runnings of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf and Breeders' Cup Classic, the 10th and 11th legs of the World Series Racing Championship, at Sha Tin tomorrow.
Both races were staged last Saturday at Lone Star Park, Texas. The Breeders' Cup Turf is over 2,400 metres on grass while the Breeders' Cup Classic is decided over 2,000 metres on dirt. Both are run under weight-for-age conditions.
ATV World (tonight, 11.15pm) and Cable TV (Channel 18, 6.50pm) will also broadcast the races during their Racing To Win programme.