Bin Suroor thinks he has unlocked secret to Vase
Twelve months after trainer Saeed bin Suroor discovered that it takes a bona fide Group One performer to win the Hong Kong Vase, he hopes in-form globetrotter Campanologist fits the bill and can capture this year's crown.
Godolphin's head trainer had been striving to win the staying feature since 1999 and finally broke through with Mastery last year on his sixth attempt.
The best of Bin Suroor's previous efforts was a second with Ekraar in 2001, but it's fair to say that none of the horses entered in the 2,400m event matched the class of Mastery, who was a St Leger Stakes winner before adding Sha Tin's end-of-year feature to his resume. 'You need a genuinely good horse to win this race,' Bin Suroor said yesterday after watching his horse work on the dirt. 'Mastery was a Classic winner and multi Group One winner and when you bring him here you are confident he will do well.'
Campanologist might seem a peg down from Mastery in class, but Bin Suroor is adamant he is up to the task of taking on a strong Vase field. The six-year-old is a veteran international campaigner with four Group Ones to his credit - including two in back-to-back lead-up runs.
'He is a different horse to Mastery. He was a Classic winner in Europe, but this horse has won Group Ones both last year and this year,' Bin Suroor said. 'A mile-and-a-half, that's his trip - he's won his last two races in Germany and Italy over that distance.'
The trainer watched as the US-bred entire stretched his heavily bandaged legs over 1,200 metres on the all-weather track yesterday in 1:23.3, the last 600m in 40.1 seconds and final 200m in 12.8 seconds in what Bin Suroor said would be his last piece of fast work before Sunday.
'He did most of his work in England before we left and for this time of year the horse is very healthy and sound. He is ready to go,' he said. 'The horse has done well, is happy, looks great and is in good form.'
Another overseas Vase contender, Trailblazer, made his first trackwork appearance since arriving.
Unlike his fellow Japanese raiders - who sat through a 12-hour delay in their homeland - the Yasutoshi Ikee-trained four-year-old, who is coming off a fourth in the Japan Cup, travelled perfectly.
'We did not have any problems in the journey to Hong Kong,' strapper Naoki Baba said.
'He ate up very well and has settled well at the stable. Everything has gone smoothly.'
Meanwhile, two local hopes were withdrawn from their respective races when Super Pistachio was scratched from the Vase with an elevated temperature and a leg injury forced Sean Woods to take King Dancer out of the Hong Kong Cup.