Trainers thrilled with perfect barriers for Green Birdie and Ultra Fantasy
Patrick Allen in Tokyo
Green Birdie and Ultra Fantasy will start side by side in tomorrow's Group One Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama after the barrier draw yesterday.
The computer rolled out gates six and seven for Green Birdie and Ultra Fantasy, and there were no frowns from trainers Caspar Fownes and Ricky Yiu Poon-fai at Sha Tin when they learned of the draw.
'Barrier six is perfect, I was hoping for somewhere between three and seven for Green Birdie, so I'm very happy with that,' Fownes said. 'Mark du Plessis should be able to get early cover from there and hopefully they won't get caught up in traffic as badly as they did in the Centaur Stakes. Green Birdie's bodyweight is spot on, and after his performance against the Japanese runners in the Centaur, we know he's right in with a shot on Sunday.'
Yiu returns to Tokyo this morning, but was happy enough with his seven gate: 'I understand that the main speed is on Ultra Fantasy's outside, which suits me because the horse should be able to get across to the rail and he races better like that.'
His travelling foreman and trackrider, Raymond Tam Shu-man, said Ultra Fantasy had dropped some weight, but was on the improve.
'He lost around 40 pounds on the flight but since he arrived he has been eating better all the time,' he said. 'It has been four months since his last race so the horse is very fresh, but his barrier trial in Hong Kong three weeks ago was very good.'
However, Ultra Fantasy did strike a problem in his first gallop after arriving last week. 'He had a gallop last Thursday, but the track at the quarantine centre was wet that day, which he hates, and he only went average,' Tam said. 'Today, Ricky just asked me to take it easy and give the horse a nice steady 800m blowout.'
The local favourites came up with a mixed bag in the draw, with Centaur Stakes winner Dasher Go Go (barrier two) drawing well, while Kinshasha No Kiseki will have to overcome barrier 14, as well as the bout of colic that kept him out of the Centaur, if he is to add the Sprinters Stakes to his Takamatsunomiya Kinen win. Last year's winner, Laurel Guerreiro, will be expected to make the running from gate nine, while the 2009 runner-up B B Guldan drew well in five and improving filly One Carat came up with gate eight.
The Jockey Club has put together a preview show for the Sprinters Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe meeting in Paris tomorrow. The show will air on ATV at 11.20pm tonight.