Rakti settling in well ahead of Cup
The first of the foreign raiders wasted no time landing on Hong Kong soil with Rakti, one of the real stars of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races next month, jetting in from Japan yesterday morning.
Connections of the English galloper certainly weren't allowing him the luxury of too much time to recover from what was surely a tough run in last Sunday's Kyoto Mile Championship when the nominal Hong Kong Cup favourite finished third-last in a field of 16. Rakti missed the start then gave chase to the quick leaders, overracing in the effort then being caught behind the other leading horses after the field straightened up at Kyoto.
Trainer Michael Jarvis had him whisked away in quick order to give him plenty of time to settle into his new Sha Tin quarters, still some two and a half weeks before the race.
The horse has been known to miss the jump in the past, and his poor performance in Japan gave Jarvis second thoughts after originally nominating the Mile as his target despite having run second to Falbrav in the Cup over 2,000 metres last year.
The trainer told Britain's Racing Post: 'Rakti has never been a good starter but he missed the break badly in Japan and if he did the same in the Mile at Hong Kong we would lose all chance as the course is quite sharp and you have to get away well. Over a mile and a quarter he has got more of a chance.'
In other news, jockey Patrick Payne said reports that he would finish his retainership with Caspar Fownes' stable immediately were premature.
'The transfer of Perfect Partner out of the stable has put a different aspect on it. I was battling with my weight a bit but looking forward to riding Perfect Partner in the Hong Kong Mile was a real incentive to keep going. Now that he has been moved, it will be a little tougher to find that incentive,' said Payne, who is currently serving a suspension.
'But it is too soon to say I am going. It would be more accurate to say I'm considering the options.'
Another Australian, Craig Williams, returns to race riding Sunday at Sha Tin after serving six meetings out for failing to inform stewards of a shoulder fracture he had been carrying and which impacted on his performances in late October.
'I'm very keen to get going again,' Williams said yesterday. 'I had some momentum up when I got the ban and I've lost that, but the suspension was probably a blessing in one way as it forced me to take a proper rest with the injury.'
Williams has now provided the required medical clearances and certification from an orthopaedic specialist that the injury has completely healed.
The former Hong Kong Derby and Mile winner Olympic Express was officially retired yesterday after re-injuring his damaged tendon in last weekend's International Mile trials.