Americain's work regime 'out of the ordinary'
In a city rarely exposed to distance racing, Americain's trackwork yesterday was of the marathon variety. Appropriately, the post-gallop recovery of Sunday's short-priced Hong Kong Vase favourite would have done justice to the great marathoner Haile Gebrselassie himself.
Race rider Gerald Mosse walked Americain from the quarantine stables at the south of Sha Tin to the top of the 1,800-metre chute at the diagonally opposite end. With a graceful 180-degree turn, the world's best stayer moved straight into one of his middle gears and was galloping at better than even time when he passed the 1,600m marker.
It was a gallop of two halves by the France-based Americain, who will be aiming for his sixth straight success on Sunday in a race that has almost become an exclusive European domain in recent years.
With Mosse sitting quietly and riding on a typically long rein, Americain slid through the first 800m in 56.8 seconds, then stepped up the tempo, clocking 51.1 for the second half of the gallop.
Impressively, from that point, every 200m was a bit quicker than the previous one, with the watch stopping at 1:47.9 for the journey, the last 400m in 23.7 seconds and the ultimate furlong in 11.64. Even knowing onlookers were astonished at his clean windedness as Mosse walked him back.
The forecast cool change had yet to arrive when South Africa's J J The Jet Plane did his bit to disturb the morning atmosphere, swishing through a piece of work that disguised remarkable times with an effortless outward appearance.
Ridden by Everisto Nyambo, the multiple Group One winner rushed over 600m in an all-weather track spin that sounded ominous warnings for his Sprint rivals.
A leisurely first 200 metres in 14.1 seconds belied what was to come. On straightening, the bay gelding lengthened stride immediately, running his final 400 in 21.95 seconds and his final 200 in 10.62.
The impressive part of JJ's work was his great physical reach in front, unusual for a specialist sprinter, and he's clearly subject to further improvement as he is still coming right in the coat.
Not long after the South African wonder horse worked, Singapore's Rocket Man completed a stylish workout under Felix Coetzee.
This is a horse for which fast galloping is second nature, so his 800m in 46.9 seconds, the final 400 in 23.75, was relatively low key by his personal benchmarks. However, Coetzee and trainer Patrick Shaw know exactly where they have him in terms of fitness and were content to leave his remaining energy unburned.