Brittain to risk Alflora in territory
From JIM McGRATH in London
ENGLISH trainer Clive Brittain is to press ahead with plans to run Alflora in the $5 million Hong Kong International Cup at Sha Tin next month despite the colt's disappointing performance in the Group One Dubai Champion Stakes at Newmarket on October 16.
Alflora, ridden by Lester Piggott, failed to beat a runner home in the Champion Stakes, a performance that left the ever-confident Brittain completely mystified.
''I just couldn't believe it,'' said Brittain, a globetrotting trainer who is anxious to add Hong Kong to his impressive list of overseas ports of call. He was the first English trainer to win a Japan Cup, and the first to win a Breeders' Cup race in the United States.
''When Alflora came back home he was as fresh as paint. It was almost as if he hadn't had a race; and quite frankly, I just can't understand what happened. Lester was sitting there, going well a furlong out, and the next thing he was last,'' Brittain pointed out.
Alflora is one of several horses entered for both the International Cup and the Bowl, although the 1,800-metre Cup is much his preferred race. The distance should prove absolutely ideal.
The colt's best performance came at Royal Ascot in June when he landed the Queen Anne Stakes, fighting back after being headed by hot favourite Inner City in the dying stages to snatch victory under a determined Mick Kinane ride.
The other interesting entry in both the Cup and Bowl is the Richard Hannon-trained Swing Low, winner of the Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August.
However, before Swing Low's entry is considered, there is the question of the tough galloper's ownership to be considered. Currently owned in partnership by David Sullivan, the British-based soft-porn publishing tycoon, and Oxford-based Barry Gallop, the horse is due to go under the hammer at public auction this week.
Others seeking European invitations for the Cup are hardy campaigner Ruby Tiger, who could be on a swan song journey, Emperor Jones, a disappointing Sheik Mohammed-owned three-year-old, and the John Hammond-trained Voleris, a winner at Longchamp on Ciga Arc weekend.
Karinga Bay, who failed to measure up in the Cup two years ago, is once again trying to gain a berth in either of the two international races.