Jay Peg ready and raring to go in first Asian assault
Dubai Duty Free hero Jay Peg is in superb form, according to trainer Herman Brown, and is ready to bring his A game to Kranji on Sunday for the S$3 million (HK$16.9 million) trophy.
Jay Peg was the surprise packet of the Dubai World Cup meeting, leading throughout under former Hong Kong club jockey Anton Marcus but almost throwing the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free (1,777m) away in the final stages with some erratic running.
Brown, a familiar figure on the international stage, doesn't expect anything quite so headstrong from the galloper at 2,000 metres.
'I have to admit he does tend to run to the right under full pressure, but I don't expect anything quite as erratic as he did in the final stages in Dubai,' said Brown, referring to the antics that almost saw Marcus unseated near the winning post.
'This horse won't have any problems with the 2,000 metres. He's a strong horse, a fast, relentless galloper who just loves to run.'
Jay Peg's former trainer is a famous face in Hong Kong, seven-time champion jockey Basil Marcus, who selected and purchased him as a yearling for a mere 130,000 rand and prepared him to win eight of his first 13 starts.
While Jay Peg raced in the front in Dubai and kept on amazingly well, Brown doesn't envisage a do-or-die speed duel with front-running New Zealand performer Sir Slick. 'The Dubai Duty Free was the first occasion he's really led all the way like that,' he said.
'In most of his other races, he's settled up close in the first four, but there will be no problems taking a trail if the jockey on the New Zealand horse is set on leading.'
The certainty of a strong pace in the Cup is good news for the staying types but a message of doom for some of the local gallopers who are considered suspect as true middle-distance horses.
'My other horse Mourilyan is a really good horse and I've been very happy with his preparation,' Brown said.
'He's a proper stayer and he's won two out of four for us since we bought him from Ireland late last year.
'He might find the 2,000 metres here a bit on the sharp side, but if he copes with the tempo, he'll be getting to the line really well. I like the horse a lot.'
Mourilyan is a four-year-old son of former leading British miler Desert Prince. The colt has raced only eight times for four wins, two seconds and a third, with his only unplaced run coming last start when eighth in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Hong Kong's major interest in Singapore's annual highlight race will be the participation of Olivier Doleuze, who is riding the French-trained galloper Balius.
A surprise second to Archipenko in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on April 23, Balius looks to have held his form and should make his first Asian tour a profitable one.
Stephane Duprey, assistant trainer to Carlos Laffon-Parias, had already formed a race strategy after the Mujahid horse drew barrier 10 in the capacity field of 16.
'This is excellent. We will have two of our main rivals in our line of sight: Jay Peg in seven and Cosmo Bulk in nine,' Duprey enthused.