Shea confident Archipenko will come good in QE II Cup
The mystery of Archipenko's below-par run in the Dubai Duty Free may be destined to remain unexplained, but jockey Kevin Shea doesn't see it as anything other than a one-off disappointment.
Shea, who celebrated his 46th birthday last Thursday, was at Sha Tin yesterday to handle Archipenko in slow work on the all-weather track and was unable to fault the athletic bay.
Archipenko, the defending champion in Sunday's HK$14 million Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,000m), looked bright and a bundle of energy in the strong canter and was keen to go faster leaving Shea in a confident frame of mind.
'He certainly felt good this morning, and I think we can expect something good on Sunday,' the South African jockey said.
After winning last year's QE II from Balius and Viva Pataca, Archipenko won a Group Two at Ascot at his next start, before shipping to America for a fighting second in the Arlington Million in Chicago.
He then had a winter break, before resuming with a Group Three win in Dubai and, then that ordinary sixth behind Gladiatorus in the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free (March 28) - his only bad run since being bought by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa from the Aidan O'Brien yard and given to Mike de Kock to campaign.
Weichong Marwing, fresh from his double and Jockey Challenge win at Happy Valley on Sunday, is the new jockey for Dao Dao in the Champions Mile.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes, who prepares the former Hong Kong-based gelding in partnership with father John and brother Wayne, confirmed the engagement yesterday.
'We're happy to have him on board,' Hawkes said, 'He has the experience here in Hong Kong and he'll suit the horse.'
Darren Beadman, who rides regularly for the Hawkes team in Australia, was aboard Dao Dao when the horse won at Rosehill on April 4, but he is committed to Collection for John Moore in the Champions Mile.
Dao Dao and fellow Australian Niconero had leisurely workouts on the all-weather track and their progress has pleased their respective camps.
'[Dao Dao] has done well,' Hawkes said. 'It's great to be here with a horse you know is genuinely competitive. We're here to work, not for a holiday. The horse has been here before which is a real plus and we expect him to be right in it, but we're very mindful of the strength of the opposition.'