Woods delighted as King Dancer gets a call-up for Sheema
The Sean Woods-trained King Dancer has been handed his chance to extend Hong Kong's fantastic record in the US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night (March 26).
Woods has been waiting for news this past week as other runners tossed up between the World Cup itself and the Sheema Classic, but the Englishman said yesterday he was relieved and grateful for the opportunity after his five-year-old turned in the best work of his life yesterday morning. 'It's a tough race, I know, with Snow Fairy and some other big names against us but this is what you get up in the mornings for, to compete at this level,' he said. 'This morning he worked 1,400m with a companion and I was absolutely delighted. He's come through a personal best second placing in the Gold Cup the other day and now he's worked like this. I'm not claiming it is due to my clever planning, but he is so healthy and well and at the right time.'
King Dancer flies to Dubai tonight, with John Moore's sprinters Dim Sum and Sunny King, and Darren Beadman will take the ride in the Sheema and in an important gallop on Wednesday morning.
'King Dancer is a highly strung colt and we have to be careful with him so he will work again on Wednesday and Darren will be there to work Dim Sum, so that works well, and I'm very pleased to have him on in the race,' Woods said.
Since Hong Kong's first runners in the Sheema Classic in 2001 - Daliapour (seventh) and Indigenous (13th) - this jurisdiction has assembled an oddly impressive record in the race for a racing culture with so little 2,400m racing. Helene Vitality finished second in 2002, Vengeance Of Rain scored a famous victory in 2007 and Viva Pataca was second in 2008.
In other news, the cancellation of trips to Japan for Green Birdie and Joy And Fun will mean Brett Prebble and Zac Purton will now be available at Sha Tin on March 27, so the Jockey Club has called off bringing New Zealand whiz-kid James McDonald.
Up for grabs
Total prize money for the Dubai Sheema Classic: US$5m