Apache Cat looks ready for revenge
Baldy-faced star Apache Cat may be running out of time, but the most highly achieved runner at the international meeting has some unfinished business after finishing third as odds-on favourite in the Hong Kong Sprint 12 months ago.
'I think we'll start to ease off him now, where he's at in life, but I couldn't be happier with him right now,' said trainer Greg Eurell of the eight-time Group One winner.
'He is starting to get along a bit, and wear and tear sneaks into the equation, as it does with them all, and we are probably going to be more careful and selective about where we go after this.'
Yet that should not allow his rivals any comfort this week, as Apache Cat has travelled as well, if not better than last year to Hong Kong.
'Last year he did quite a bit of travel to get here after we took him to Perth. He came back to Melbourne, a five-hour flight, then had to get on a plane again to come here,' Eurell explained.
'We thought about Perth this year, but the flight schedules didn't allow for a run there and we considered the International Sprint Trial here, but it didn't quite fit either.
'So he comes with a little gap between runs and a bit fresher, but that might be in his favour.
'I thought he had never looked better in his career than he did when he was here last year, so we've stuck to the same game plan and he has allowed us to do that - he's just in great order.'
Apache Cat has become so good at travelling that one wonders if Eurell should have been travelling him overseas earlier than his six-year-old year last season.
'As a young horse, you couldn't have done it. You'd never guess then that he would become such a good traveller because his character was so different when he was younger,' he marvelled.
'But the travelling he did then, from Melbourne to Sydney and back, it seemed to be the making of him. He settled down and, over time, he seems to have come to enjoy it and it keeps him enthusiastic.'
Those eight Group Ones do not count for more than a glorious past when Apache Cat lines up looking for revenge on Sunday, but Eurell relishes the assignment.
'It's great to be back and have another go. He just missed last year, and it's a red-hot race, but that's what the game is all about and he'll run as well as he can,' Eurell said.
'He'll do some work Tuesday morning, then just trot and canter to the race. He was right on song when we left Australia and all he needs is a top-off. Everything is going to plan,' he added.