Ain't Here primed for HK Cup battle
Jockey Brett Prebble declared Hong Kong Cup hopeful Ain't Here to have 'improved again' after riding the in-form galloper through an incredible piece of work on the course proper prior to the first event at Sha Tin yesterday.
With the $18 million international Group One just 14 days away, Ain't Here thundered through a superb workout, where he looked to be doing it very easily but registered times almost worthy of a race.
The Dehere gelding, who is owned by Hong Kong property magnate Robert Ng Chee Siong, ran the metric mile in one minute and 43.9 seconds but really put the hoof down after coasting through his first 400 metres just outside even time.
His time for the last 1,200 metres was 1:13.2 and the following splits really underlined his claim to the top rank of thoroughbred.
Ain't Here ran the last 800 metres in 46.8 seconds, the last 600 metres in 34.4, the last 400 in 22.8 and the final furlong in 11.59.
'He felt just fantastic,' Prebble said later. 'He's won his last two starts and felt even better today than he did in the International Cup Trial two weeks ago. After that gallop, I feel confident to say he'll just about win the Hong Kong Cup but he'll definitely run in the first three.'
Trainer David Hayes echoed Prebble's sentiments.
'I didn't send him out to run such quick times but he did it well within himself,' Hayes said.
'He didn't work too keenly. He was completely relaxed.'
Hayes also sent his Hong Kong Vase candidate, Beethoven, over a mile, with the Zabeel gelding recording a more leisurely 1:49.5, the final 800 metres in 51.3 and the last 400 metres in 24.5.
However, jockey Craig Williams asked Beethoven to open up over the final 200 metres and he responded with a splendid 11.66 although never off the steel.
Hayes, who has won three feature races already this season, also used the opportunity to get a solid gallop into his highly rated private purchase Oriental Magic, who raced as Kalaman in England.
Oriental Magic, also handled by Prebble, followed stablemate Moscow Ballet (Williams) at a leisurely gallop to the home turn but then accelerated straight past his workmate to win the gallop by eight lengths. The import, who will have his first Hong Kong start in the $14 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile on December 12, ran the 1,200 metres in 1:21.8, the last 400 metres in 22.78 and the final split in 11.17.
The special feature gallops were completed with the appearance of 2003 Queen Mother Memorial Cup winner Supreme Rabbit, who defeated stablemate Danehill Warrior at the end of 1,200 metres in 1:15.5, the last 400 metres in 22.5.
Supreme Rabbit, ridden by Robbie Fradd, registered 11.4 seconds for his final 200 metres.
'He felt really good, and sprinted strongly the last 400 metres,' Fradd said. 'I've told [trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai] that I'll ride him in the Vase. The way he felt today, he won't disgrace himself.'