Soumillon given all clear to ride Good Ba Ba
Christophe Soumillon has confirmed his availability to come to Hong Kong on the weekend and will join Frankie Dettori as the two star jockey billings on Sunday's Audemar Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup programme.
Soumillon had originally been unable to guarantee that he could return to handle Horse of the Year Good Ba Ba in the Champions Mile and rising star Thumbs Up in the QE II, but has now been cleared by his retaining owner, the Aga Khan.
Dettori, the retained jockey for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin organisation, will ride Alexandros in the Champions Mile.
Soumillon and Dettori were two of six one-day licenses issued yesterday by the Jockey Club licensing committee. Felix Coetzee is also returning from Cape Town to handle Egyptian Ra in the Champions Mile and Danesis, owned in the same interests, as an outside chance in the QE II.
Australian Craig Williams, popular during his years in Hong Kong, will maintain his partnership with David Hayes' in-form veteran Niconero, winner of three Group One races from his past five starts.
Yesterday the club confirmed Sunday's broad hint that New Zealand's 'people's champion' Sir Slick will not be making the trip for the Champions Mile following his failure in last Saturday's Group One AJC Doncaster Handicap in Sydney.
The club also announced an additional QE II scratching in progressive four-year-old Roma Pegasus, trained by Almond Lee Yee-tat, and American Artiste Royale, as well as Me Tsui Yu-sak's Gem Of Chiu Ton from the Champions Mile line-up.
Meanwhile, Good Ba Ba looks set to successfully defend his Champions Mile crown after a superb gallop on the course proper yesterday proved to trainer Andreas Schutz that he retains top form. Working solo, approximately 25 metres out from the inside rail, Good Ba Ba went 1,200m in 1:16.3, dashing down the final 400m in 22.3 seconds.