Cumani's success in Asia points to Presvis victory
Luca Cumani, who trained the greatest performer in the history of Hong Kong racing, is back in town taking aim at tomorrow's HK$14 million Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Presvis, and there's a growing belief he will hit the target.
Cumani already has four major Asian Cup trophies on his mantelpiece in Newmarket - his unforgettable 2003 Hong Kong Cup with Falbrav, a Singapore Airlines International Cup with Endless Hall and two Japan Cups (Falbrav and Alkaased). No trainer in the world can boast anything close to that.
Charlie Henson, assistant trainer to Cumani, was buzzing after Presvis completed some light exercise on Thursday and he was in similar mood after Presvis went smoothly at his first try on the Sha Tin turf yesterday.
'He's improved and improved and seems to be in grand form since arriving from Dubai,' Henson said. 'Not only is he really relaxed but just look at his hindquarters - they have really developed and muscled up in the past few months.'
Henson was the centre of attention for a second reason yesterday when tracks manager Pako Ip Pak-chung spotted him prodding his beloved grass strip with a 'going stick'.
'The boss rang and wanted to know exactly what the ground would be like,' Henson said.
Mark Player, the Jockey Club's manager for international racing, stepped in, saying: 'Tell Luca he has nothing to worry about, the going will almost certainly be good to firm.'
Cumani is due for a change of luck in international Group Ones. He's had the runner-up in the last two Melbourne Cups with Purple Moon and Bauer, second in the Hong Kong Vase in December with Purple Moon and the same horse was beaten just two noses in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28. All that besides Presvis' storming second to Gladiatorus in the Group One Dubai Duty Free.
Presvis was one of the successes of the 2009 Dubai carnival, winning two turf handicaps under Ryan Moore, before his big test in the Duty Free on World Cup night.
'His runs in the handicaps didn't surprise me too much, he was entitled to run well in them, but his performance against the Group One horses in the Duty Free did,' said Cumani, who will arrive today. 'When he was drawn widest of all in 16, I was disappointed, to say the least. We didn't know if he belonged in that company, but he showed he did. He ran a terrific race in the circumstances and made up a lot of ground in the straight.'
Henson says he can't fault the horse's progress. 'He had his final piece of work in Dubai on Sunday and that's why he has done so little since he's been here because he did all his training at Nad al Sheba. He's thrived since he's left England, really enjoyed the sunshine and the warmer weather, and we're really looking forward to Sunday.'