Thumbs Up can claim first international Group trophy
A combination of factors that has eluded Thumbs Up this season in Hong Kong can pave the way to the Caspar Fownes-trained six-year-old claiming the prestigious Group One Yasuda Kinen today.
Fownes already has an overseas Group One on his resume, with Green Birdie's win in Singapore last year, and that same horse was unlucky in feature Japanese sprints earlier in the term, to show Fownes knows what travelling horses is about.
Thumbs Up (Brett Prebble) has been positively glowing with health at track sessions and is ready to run the race of his career, with conditions finally swinging to his advantage after a frustrating season which had promised so much when Fownes took him over a year ago.
Things have gone awry since he won the Sha Tin Trophy in October, so much so that he has only run five times and not the least of the problems has been tempo - with most of his races on-pace dominated.
Then there was a blood in trachea verdict after a slowly run Hong Kong Mile and a problem with his right hind that kept him out of the Stewards' Cup and a crucial part of the Group One season. But perhaps that will turn to his favour as a relatively fresh horse on the scene and also in his favour will be tempo and the wide-open Fuchu racetrack.
Silport should also ensure a good tempo and there is the possibility that some drawn wide will push on early.
There is probably little between Thumbs Up and Beauty Flash (Weichong Marwing) regarding talent, but Silport may not help Beauty Flash. Of the Japanese runners, Apapane stands out with her five Group Ones after only 12 starts, but lightly raced Strong Return is on the way up and has claims to a first elite success.