Dubai date beckons for Viva Macau
Trainer John Moore will 'shorten up' Viva Macau in a bid to revitalise the stallion's flagging career, and an early visit to the United Arab Emirates for a lead-up meeting to the world's richest day of racing now beckons.
Viva Macau, runner-up to Floral Pegasus in the Group One Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile last season, did manage to repeat that performance in the Derby Trial at 1,800m but after that was disappointing when tried at 2,000m and beyond.
'We now believe he doesn't get a yard beyond 1,800 metres,' Moore said. 'We'd like to take him to Dubai more than a month before the meeting and see if he can win one of the Group Three lead-up races, about three weeks before World Cup night, to qualify him for the Dubai Duty Free.'
The US$5 million Dubai Duty Free on March 29 is run over the unique distance of 1,777m and shares equal billing with the Dubai Sheema Classic (2,400m) on the same card as the world's richest races on turf.
The plan is subject to the agreement of owner Stanley Ho Hung-sun, but Moore does not expect the owner will have any objection as his champion Viva Pataca is already committed to the Sheema Classic, the international race won by his arch-rival Vengeance Of Rain last year.
Viva Macau showed Moore he is on the right track with a much-improved performance against a hot field in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) at Sha Tin on January 1. Although the 1,400m appeared too short, Viva Macau hit the line strongly to finish eighth behind Pocket Money, and was only three lengths from the winner. 'The other benefit of having Viva Macau there is that he will be a good mate for Viva Pataca,' Moore said.
'He will run in the Stewards Cup on January 20 and then the Hong Kong Gold Cup. Of course, he still has to be invited to run in Dubai but I cannot imagine why he wouldn't be, with his record and the sort of form he is in at present.'
Moore said he intends to send his 25-year-old son George to Dubai with Viva Macau, as well as British work rider Ben Hull.
The momentum for the Dubai carnival will now start to build, with the Winter Racing Challenge concluding last night and the Dubai International Carnival starting next Thursday.
Outstanding Japanese filly Daiwa Scarlet, a multiple Grade One winner and a last-start second to Matsurida Gogh in the Group One Grand Prix Arima Kinen in December, became a confirmed visitor for the carnival.
But although she had earlier been touted as a runner in the Dubai Duty Free, trainer Kunihide Matsuda is mulling over the possibility of taking on the world's best on dirt.
'We have not decided which race to enter her for - the Dubai Duty Free or Dubai World Cup,' Matsuda told the Dubai Racing Club.