Derby winner eyes QE II Cup
Alan Aitken in Dubai
Sir Percy could be become the first Epsom Derby winner to race in Hong Kong next month if all goes to plan in Saturday's US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic.
The four-year-old has delighted trainer Marcus Tregoning and jockey Martin Dwyer in Dubai trackwork as he prepares to resurrect a reputation which dropped a notch when a disappointing seventh at Newmarket in October. And the good news is that connections are keen to continue on an international path with the colt.
'The owners are real racing fans, they aren't in a hurry to retire him to stud,' said Dwyer, best known for winning the Hong Kong Vase on Phoenix Reach in 2005. 'They have a very good racehorse, who is still lightly raced and may not have peaked yet, and they want to enjoy racing him - of course, depending on him remaining sound.
'He's in all the big races and that includes the QEII Cup in Hong Kong, which would be an ideal target.'
Soundness might have been considered an issue after Sir Percy - beaten only once in six starts prior - was a Champion Stakes failure behind the subsequent Hong Kong Cup heroine Pride.
'He'd had some tough races before the Derby and it was a remarkable job from Marcus and his staff to have the horse good enough to win that race,' Dwyer said. 'Being the horse he is, he ran his heart out to win that despite the problems and it was difficult to get him back again after it. He had niggling muscular problems and wasn't right for Newmarket - just put a line through that run.'
On the contrary, Dwyer said he couldn't be happier with Sir Percy's recent work.
'He looks great and I think he's probably better than he's ever been now. Marcus is thrilled with him,' Dwyer said.
Jockey Club officials are also hoping to lure Dubai Duty Free runner, Stormy River, to Hong Kong on April 29 for the Champions Mile.
The French Group One winner, to be ridden by Olivier Peslier on Saturday night, has pleased trainer Nicolas Clement in his preparation and looked fit yesterday when taking a look around the Nad Al Sheba parade yard after a steady 600m gallop.
'He had a very good winter in Chantilly,' Clement said. 'Both Olivier and I are very happy with him.'