Vengeance Of Rain looks in 'perfect order'
Anthony Delpech has declared Horse of the Year Vengeance Of Rain to be at his very best for Sunday's epic rematch with Viva Pataca in the wake of a stunning gallop on the Sha Tin turf track yesterday morning.
Delpech, the only jockey to have won on Vengeance Of Rain, let the Dubai Sheema Classic hero slide over 1,200 metres, on the outside of the course proper, in one minute 14.4 seconds.
While that's an outstanding gallop in anyone's language, the Zabeel gelding's final split took the jockey's breath away, a blinding 22.4 seconds without ever coming off the bridle.
'I was worried that he was coming into the international race with just one run under his belt, where I would have preferred he'd had two, but not any more,' Delpech said last night, confidence high after a comeback double at Sha Tin.
'I had intended to push him out the final 200 metres of the gallop but I didn't, because he was going so fast - racehorses just don't go any faster.
'David [Ferraris] has done a super job with him - he'll go into this race in absolutely perfect order.
'I truly don't think I've ever felt him as well - I know that's a big call but that's how he felt to me.'
Although the field for the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup has drawn just seven runners, it will still be a race for the ages, with Hong Kong's two best gallopers in Viva Pataca and David Ferraris' (pictured) Vengeance Of Rain taking on Europe's champion miler in 2007, Ramonti, to be ridden by Frankie Dettori.
'We might have wished for a few more numbers but we certainly can't complain about the quality,' said Jockey Club international racing manager, Mark Player.
'It's a race that will have everybody talking.'
Yesterday, however, the talking heads had Player very agitated with a rumour about Australia's champion sprinter Miss Andretti having returned a positive swab causing him more than a little anguish.
The rumour apparently started in Melbourne but was firmly put down last night by Player as being 'a lot of rubbish'.
'It must have received a lot of airplay and gained some credibility in Melbourne because [the mare's trainer] Lee Freedman called from Melbourne, quite angry that he hadn't been informed,' Player explained.
'The reality is the rumour-mongers were peddling the story nine hours before even the analysts at the laboratory knew the results from the testing of Miss Andretti's swab sample.
'But I can assure you the results came back 100 per cent clear. The story has no substance whatsoever.'