Good Yasuda draw raises HK hopes
Hopes of a Hong Kong victory in tomorrow's HK$18.8 million Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo were raised after both Beauty Flash and Thumbs Up received favourable barrier draws yesterday and continued to get positive report cards from their handlers.
The grey, brooding skies of Thursday were replaced by snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance, poking through sunshine expected to last through the weekend and both horses looked to appreciate the change in conditions at the track session.
Neither was asked to do a great deal but gamboled around bright and healthy before calmly testing the parade yard around which they will walk for a considerable time before the fourth leg of the Asian Mile Challenge tomorrow.
Tony Cruz said Beauty Flash had been weighed and was spot on his best fighting weight of 1,200 pounds, alleviating fears about him gaining weight as he did a year ago.
'Last year, I did all the work with him in Hong Kong before we came and then he put on all that weight when we were here so this year I've done more with him here,' said Cruz. 'I'm happy with him.'
Despite the likely clear conditions, the state of the going will be crucial to the outcome of the Yasuda Kinen: after last weekend's big Japanese Derby meeting was held in wet conditions, the inside of the Fuchu course has been left marked by that experience, with a possible edge this weekend to horses coming away from the wear and tear of the inside section in the straight.
The nine draw for Beauty Flash in the 18-strong field held no fears for Cruz and six looked ideal for Thumbs Up, according to trainer Caspar Fownes.
'I wasn't too concerned as Beauty Flash has won his Group One races from outside draws,' said Cruz. 'But I was happy to get a draw in the middle of the field so we have some options. He doesn't have to lead and there is some speed inside him and outside him. If the pace is too strong, he can cross behind the pace and take a sit.'
The strongest local hope, star filly Apapane, has won seven of her 12 starts, five of her wins in Group One events, and she is drawn inside Beauty Flash in barrier eight but usually launches her assaults from a position in midfield or slightly better.
The likely speed is a relief to Fownes as Thumbs Up has often been hampered by unsuitable tempos in his Group One assignments at home. 'From gate six, he shouldn't have to get too far back and he can be wherever he is comfortable, according to the speed. But a better tempo should allow us to see the best of him and we know he has an explosive turn of foot in those circumstances,' Fownes said.