Mountain of work facing Partners
WINNING Partners faces an herculean task in today's $14 million Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo racecourse in Japan.
The mile event will be shown live between races three and four at Sha Tin and Happy Valley at 2.35 pm but there will be no betting on it in Hong Kong.
Besides the stiff competition from Europe and Japan, Winning Partners is racing left-handed which is the opposite way round to Hong Kong. He is also tackling a stiff mile for the first time and racing on ground firmer than he likes.
It all adds up to probably a place chance at best for the Neville Begg-trained gelding who showed so much spirit to hold Marina Park in the International Bowl this December.
Lance O'Sullivan, the multiple champion jockey of New Zealand, is in the saddle and both he and Begg are well aware of the task ahead.
It would be a personal triumph for them and a victory for Hong Kong racing in general should Winning Partners reach the frame.
Should he win, there are likely to be scenes of wild jubilation in the Sha Tin stands.
But as Begg himself says: ''The form of the European fillies, Ski Paradise and Sayyedati looks to be outstanding.
''They are both Group One fillies and are going to be very, very competitive.
''My fellow is well. He's bright and has acclimatised well. We are just hoping for a good run for Hong Kong.'' Ski Paradise, second to Lure in the Breeders' Cup Mile before winning easily over 1,400 metres in Japan, does look the one that Winning Partners has to beat.
Ski Paradise, trained by the great French handler Andre Fabre, also has the advantage of being ridden by local champion, Take, who scored on her last time out.
Take had the pick of most of the Japanese runners but decided to remain loyal to Ski Paradise which is a big tip in itself.
Winning Partners is only the second Hong Kong-based horse to race outside the territory, following River Verdon's disappointing mission to the Arlington Million in Chicago, the September before last.
See Back Page for full card.