Parade ring could be toughest part of QEII for River Jetez
South African mare River Jetez went quietly about her guided tour of the Sha Tin parade yard yesterday but her next appearance there is unlikely to be as gentle.
'She's a real bugger to put a saddle on,' said Mike de Kock's travelling assistant, Steven Jell. 'She's not just difficult, she's almost dangerous.'
So how the seven-year-old mare will handle being saddled up in the parade ring on Sunday with a full audience is anyone's guess, but oddly enough it's the only part of the race-day routine that River Jetez really gives problems.
'Once the saddle's on, she's fine, it's just getting it on that's a hurdle,' Jell said. 'She is a bit of a quirky traveller and has taken a little while to settle in, so I'm pleased we came earlier.'
River Jetez arrived earlier for simple reasons of expediency - her stablemate Musir had to be here for Monday's BMW Champions Mile and she was accompanying him. Musir walked the parade ring yesterday with the mare to show her around.
The daughter of Jet Master may be seven but the past year has been the best of her career, with a win in the prestigious J&B Met in South Africa last year and a second in the Dubai Duty Free last time out.
Somewhere between those runs, she went from another top South African trainer, Mike Bass, into De Kock's yard in similar circumstances to many of the horses he has campaigned successfully abroad.
'Mike Bass is a top trainer and she won the J&B Met and then basically they wanted to see how good she was by going overseas but he didn't want to take her himself - it's a pretty tough thing to do a whole season away with one horse when you have a big team to look after at home,' Jell said.
'He did the same thing with Sun Classique who won the Sheema Classic with us. So this mare came to us when some of our other Dubai horses were already in quarantine in August and she's done very well and comes here in great form.'
Whether that translates to a win in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup on Sunday has yet to play out. De Kock has a great record with two wins and two seconds in the QEII from a limited number of raids, but Jell's confidence seems about the same as it was before Lizard's Desire ran second a year ago.
'It isn't easy travelling horses and winning these races. I think sometimes people don't realise what the horses have to come through to win them. This mare did 114 days of quarantine in South Africa, England and then Dubai before she even had a race over there,' he said.
'We are hopeful but there's always some local horse who is tough to beat. Old Viva Pataca seems to come good this time every year and run well and Tony Millard says his horse Ambitious Dragon is pretty good. But River Jetez is going well enough to run well and if she comes out of it all right then she'll go on to Singapore.'
In other QEII news, Australian jockey Damien Oliver will take the place of injured Glyn Schofield on board highly credentialled Gitano Hernando.