Freak injury halts Hello Pretty's bid for more riches
'I can only assume he's accidentally hurt himself in his box'
The emerging career of multiple Group winner Hello Pretty came to a shuddering halt yesterday morning when trainer Tony Cruz found him to be significantly sore in the right front tendon.
Cruz was shocked at the discovery, which not only ruled Hello Pretty out of Sunday's HK$8 million Hong Kong Gold Cup but also nullified a potential bid for the world's equal-richest race on turf, the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free on Dubai World Cup night on March 31.
'I really couldn't believe it,' Cruz said. 'The horse did some cantering work on Wednesday morning and we had him fully vetted after that for the renewal of his insurance policy. So it's not just me saying it, but the vets said he was 100 per cent too, just 24 hours earlier.
'Then, we've found him in this condition this morning. I can only assume he's accidentally hurt himself in his box overnight. We're giving the leg a day to settle down, and will have it fully scanned [today].' Hello Pretty has been with Cruz since last summer and scored one of the most impressive wins of the new season in the Group Two International Cup Trial on November 12. The Australian-bred chestnut had finished second to Armada in the Group One Stewards' Cup (1,600m) on January 28 and Gerald Mosse had been booked to ride him in Sunday's feature, which will be decided over the same course and distance as the International Cup Trial.
Meanwhile, Hello Pretty's veteran stablemate Bullish Luck came through his final gallop without a problem and is ready for big-time action once again.
The Gold Cup of 2004 heralded Bullish Luck's arrival as a big-time player, with the American-bred racer storming home from last to defeat Elegant Fashion.
Since then, Bullish Luck has gone from strength to strength, winning the opening two years of the Asian Mile Challenge and four more Group One races along the way.
Last year, Bullish Luck captured the Champions Mile at Sha Tin and then became only the fourth Hong Kong-trained horse - after Fairy King Prawn, Cape Of Good Hope and Silent Witness - to land a Group One race on foreign soil by capturing the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.
Bullish Luck had his final breeze yesterday, handled by senior track rider Patrick Tse Chun-hong, and sizzled down 400m in 21.9 seconds, comfortably defeating stablemate Great Guy.
'I'm very pleased with the way Bullish Luck has been progressing,' Cruz said. 'He has taken a while to get fit after a setback earlier in the season. I'm hoping he can win this race and then it's off to Dubai for the World Cup.'
The Dubai World Cup - at US$6 million, the world richest horse race - will be run over 2,000m on dirt at Nad al Sheba racecourse on March 31.
The race has also attracted the world's two best dirt performers, Invasor and Discreet Cat, and it will be Bullish Luck's first start on dirt after an all-turf career of 40 starts.
In addition to Hello Pretty, two other Gold Cup entrants were not declared for yesterday morning - Growl and Flying Tamari, both from the yard of Almond Lee Yee-tat - leaving a field of eight to run.
Flying Tamari has instead accepted for the Co-Tack Handicap for Class One horses, over 1,600m (race three).
The Flying Spur gelding will again be handled by Eddie Lai Wai-ming, whose two-pound allowance will reduce Flying Tamari's weight carried to 115 pounds.