Excellent Art a picture of health
Dylan Thomas may be getting the media space, but his stablemate Excellent Art confirmed yesterday that Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle operation has more than one Group One performer in Hong Kong.
Three-year-old Excellent Art has a ticket to the HK$16 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile and looked in top condition yesterday, galloping 1,200 metres on the main turf track in one minute 27.8 seconds, quickening up the final 400 metres in 24.3 seconds without coming off the bridle.
O'Brien, the 38-year-old training wizard from Ireland, was on hand yesterday morning to watch the quality three-year-old miler, who has chased home the biggest names on either side of the Atlantic Ocean at his past three starts.
'At Monmouth Park [he finished second in the Breeders' Cup Mile] the draw was against him, as was the ground, with it shifting underneath him,' O'Brien explained.
'The ground here is beautiful and it's a lovely track, so that will be a big help. He has not done as much racing as Dylan Thomas but he is a good, tough, honest horse and we're hoping for a good run.'
O'Brien surprised by galloping Hong Kong Vase favourite Dylan Thomas again, just 24 hours after he reeled off 800 metres in 50 seconds on the all-weather track.
'He's a typical son of Danehill, getting bigger and stronger all the time. He doesn't owe anybody anything and has performed in Group One races nearly every month since the start of the season. He's an amazing horse,' O'Brein said.
German trainer Peter Schiergen was also at the track with Gestut Fahrhof's racing manager Simon Stokes to watch Vase hopeful Quijano clock the quickest time of the morning - 1,200 metres in 1:14.9, the final 400m in 22.1 seconds, on the all-weather track under Andrasch Starke.
Stokes said: 'We were very happy with the horse's work. He's in very good form but obviously it's going to be a tough race.'
Doctor Dino, from France, continued his smooth progress on the all-weather track and again looked in top form with work rider Eric Gandon, ahead of trainer Richard Gibson's arrival today.
The 2006 Breeders' Cup Turf Champion, Red Rocks, had a gentle outing on the all-weather track before going to the paddock for a schooling session accompanied as ever by his lead horse. Trainer Brian Meehan is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow.
On the pace
Number of seconds it took Excellent Art to cover the final 400m in trackwork at Sha Tin yesterday: 24.3