Begg happy with Partners' big race draw
WINNING Partners yesterday drew barrier 10 for his historic attempt at the 16-runner $14 million Yasuda Kinen in Toyko tomorrow.
The International Bowl hero, only the second Hong Kong-based horse to race outside the territory, is reported bright and well by trainer Neville Begg.
''We hope he will run a nice race for the prestige of Hong Kong racing and be there with a possibility,'' said the naturally cautious Begg after Winning Partners had completed his preparation with a final spin at the track yesterday morning.
''But we would love a shower or two as the track is very firm even after some steady rain yesterday.'' The draw should not present a problem to Winning Partners as there is a straight and fair 1,000-metre run up a slight climb to a sweeping bend which does become quite sharp as they enter the straight which also climbs to the post.
Begg laughed: ''The draw is better than 11 but not as good as nine. But we walked the track this morning and it shouldn't make much difference being drawn in the middle of the pack.'' Winning Partners will be ridden by multiple champion New Zealand jockey Lance O'Sullivan and both he and Begg are under no illusions about the quality of the overseas opposition.
The local runners are an unknown quantity but Begg nominates the two fillies, Ski Paradise from France who has drawn 13 and will be ridden by local hero, Take, and England's Sayyedati who jumps from barrier six under Walter Swinburn, as the ones to beat.
''They look very well and their form is outstanding,'' pointed out Begg who has only once travelled a horse abroad before.
That was future Group One winner, Bureaucracy, whom he took to the Magic Millions in New Zealand but had to scratch him on the morning of the race due to a bruised foot.
Not that Begg is concerned by Winning Partners' condition. He reported that his gelding has put back all the condition he lost on the flight over and that he has adapted well to the local feed and water.
Apprentice Raymond S. M. Tam will return to action on Wednesday after bruising himself in a trackwork fall on Thursday.