HK horses get second chance Down Under

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2006, 12:00am

The world traffic in horses has long become an everyday thing, but the path between Hong Kong and Australia has never been busier or the time-lag to racing shorter - and in both directions.

And that's not talking about the hit-and-run raids by Group One horses but the bread and butter runners.

Last Saturday's Sha Tin winner, Able One, was a Sydney victor earlier this racing season and ready to run 'second-up' at Sha Tin in January, and John Moore said he had other horses running in Sydney at present which he expected to race this season in Hong Kong.

At last weekend's Moonee Valley programme in Melbourne, the former John Size-trained Amazing One found his way to the winner's stall, while former Hong Konger Vroom Vroom affirmed his place as second-favourite in ante-post betting for the Group One Australian Cup next month.

Vroom Vroom was a miserable failure for David Hayes in Hong Kong - eventually banished after the vets twice 'found' a heart irregularity - but he has now won three from three for Hayes in Melbourne.

It took Hayes months to convince authorities in Melbourne that the heart irregularity finding was misleading and the horse was safe to race but, having cleared that hurdle, Vroom Vroom has now confirmed the trainer's view that it was the horse's inability to race right-handed that led to his poor form in Hong Kong. Melbourne races are run in the left-handed direction.

Considering the manner of his ejection from Sha Tin, it could have been interesting if Vroom Vroom was to win the Australian Cup and become a genuine contender for the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but the Jockey Club will be spared that as Hayes has said he will not run the horse right-handed again anywhere.

Once upon a time, horses came to Hong Kong at the end of the line, but with replacement permits having blossomed in the past five years, owners no longer persist with horses who are not making it in Hong Kong for reasons of health or environment and they return to racing in Australia and New Zealand quite happily, often more successfully.

The former Andy Leung Ting-wah-trained Handbag Fortune is another to have recently scored wins around the Sydney region and plenty of other former Hong Kongers are racing in Adelaide and Brisbane.