Sahpresa looks a treat at trackwork
In the wake of a five-length Arc de Triomphe win with Danedream in Paris two months ago, Japanese breeding giant Teryua Yoshida would already be well pleased with his 2011 season but, judging by trackwork at Sha Tin yesterday, 'Miss Consistency' Sahpresa looks like putting her owner in the big-race mix yet again at Sunday's showpiece meeting.
While Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden was stealing the headlines with a sizzling piece of work on the course proper, Sahpresa let rip with a quick 800 metres in 47.9 seconds on the all-weather track, rushing past her galloping companion in the home straight and cruising to a comfortable victory.
Although her work rider, Vincent Vion, was taking hold in the final 50m, Sahpresa still clocked 11.65 seconds for her final 200m and 22.6 for the last 400m.
Sahpresa has returned from Europe, via Japan, for a second tilt at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile, in which she finished a luckless third last year behind Beauty Flash.
The American-bred six-year-old mare was posted beyond midfield, three-wide without cover on that occasion, in a race that played clearly in favour of horses up front near the moderate speed. Despite the big tactical disadvantage, Sahpresa loomed to win at the 200 metres but the fuel gauge hit empty 100m later and she battled to the line on sheer heart to hold down third prize-money.
While some female racehorses are famous for their temperament and inconsistency, you'd be doing Sahpresa a grave injustice to group her with the more brittle members of her sex. She's tough and hardy, as well as consistent, and has returned owner Yoshida a first-four cheque in all but one of her 21 starts, despite the fact that eight of her last nine starts have been in Group One company. At the end of September, she again won the Group One Sun Chariot Stakes (1,600m) for fillies and mares at Newmarket - a race she'd also won in 2009 and 2010.
Hong Kong Cup contender Cirrus des Aigles was rather full of himself and gave rider Zoe Gargoulaud (pictured) a stern workout as she attempted to hold him down to steady work. Ultimately she let him slide up the last 400m in 25.5 seconds to help take the edge off his freshness.
Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, owned by former Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli, was limited to pacework on the all-weather track and ran 1,200m some eight seconds outside even time. The Ed Dunlop-trained stayer looks bright and well.
New Zealand's best horse, Jimmy Choux, is the only southern hemisphere representative and will run well again, as he always does. The son of Thorn Park was held down to even time (30 seconds) for 400m and looks like he will be ready for a more demanding piece of work later in the week.
The number of Group One races Sahpresa has competed in