Hong Kong trio take heart from Yasuda Kinen barrier draw
Alan Aitken in Tokyo
There was nothing in yesterday's Yasuda Kinen barrier draw to dampen the spirits of the Hong Kong trio, with Beauty Flash and Fellowship expected to be two of the strongest-fancied runners for the HK$17.8 million mile at Fuchu racecourse tomorrow.
Fellowship came up with gate four in the full field of 18, while Beauty Flash drew gate 10.
'I'm happy with that. He is just a question mark in the last 50 metres of these mile races at the top level so we don't want him having to work in the run. I wanted an inside draw and that couldn't have been much closer to the rails,' said Fellowship's trainer, Paul O'Sullivan. 'The track looks quite even and fair to me, so I'm not expecting any bias and that means an inside draw is the shortest way around.'
Tony Cruz, who won the 2006 Yasuda Kinen with Bullish Luck, was hoping for a low draw for Beauty Flash as the four-year-old returns to his jump-and-run style tomorrow, but was not too disappointed with 10.
'Obviously, further inside would have been better, but at least he is in the middle and not on the very outside,' Cruz said. 'Wherever he drew, he was going to be pressing forward.'
Even Sight Winner, back to normal - according to his trainer John Size - after a minor hoof issue in recent days, will jump from gate five.
'That beats the other three draws I've had here,' said Size, who has previously started three Yasuda Kinen runners, with Armada having barrier 16 twice and Sight Winner beginning from alley 18 last year.
Cruz might also have taken further comfort from the fact that two of the other main front-running horses in the race - regular leader Meine Falke (13) and A Shin Forward (18) - have drawn outside Beauty Flash. Only Captain Thule (eight), Sight Winner and Reach The Crown (one) would usually race prominently of those horses inside Beauty Flash, but Captain Thule and Reach The Crown have not generally led.
Reach The Crown, a tough last-start winner of the Group Two Yomiuri Milers Cup at Hanshin over Triumph March and Captain Thule, may emerge as the favourite of the local contingent after drawing gate one.
Beauty Flash and Fellowship took plenty of time to get around in trackwork yesterday on the all-weather surface, hardly breaking into a canter in the sunny conditions.
Cruz and O'Sullivan then ordered them to be schooled with a few turns around the pre-race parade yard, where the runners will spend a considerable time on Sunday, before sending them back to their stables.
The news was also better for Sight Winner, as Size took him out on the track after he had missed Thursday morning because of a sore hoof. While he did not work and simply pottered about on a small inside track, Size said he may work this morning.
'He feels normal again. I don't think that missing one gallop on Thursday was going to make that much of a difference to him, but I might do something a little faster with him,' he said.