Dominant can live up to his name, says Callan
Having ridden Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby hopeful Dominant four times in his native Britain, Neil Callan says the expensive import has the 'most potential' of the 14 runners in Sunday's Group One.
Dominant is one of six entries for John Moore in the HK$16 million feature and marks Callan's first ride in the race, coming on the final day of the Irish jockey's current stint.
'He is the least exposed here and with the most potential,' Callan said of the flashy black colt, who was a fast-finishing third behind stablemate Zaidan and likely Derby favourite Sweet Orange in the Classic Cup over 1,800 metres.
Dominant was sent out 37-1 for the major Derby lead-up after poor trials and an unconvincing 10th in a Class Two over a mile, both times under Callan, who believes a step up to 2,000m could see him make similar improvement again.
'He settled so well last start. He switched off and showed a good kick,' he said. 'He got a little bit held up. I had to switch around one coming up the straight and he really closed off. Since that run, my horse has shown he has improved and come on.'
Dominant was topped off with a solid 1,200m dirt trial a week ago. 'He did it so easy... It just blew away the cobwebs and put him right,' said Callan, who at one stage doubted whether the horse could live up to his 94 rating.
'When I first come over and saw him, I was a bit worried, but I think since that first run he has turned the corner. He was very impressive in England and nearly broke the 2,000m track record at Newmarket. It was in a sales race, so it wasn't the best form in the world, but it was the manner in which he did it.
'He travelled supremely well and showed a real turn of foot. The time doesn't lie and he was always going to be a better four-year-old.'
Callan said any cut in the ground would help the son of Cacique and, regardless of where he draws, he indicated he would go back at the start, avoiding any traffic jams in the short run to the first turn.
'It's a funny start because everybody jostles to go forward to get a position and you've got to have your wits about you,' Callan said. 'I'm going to let him jump. He's got plenty of gate speed and he'll find a position. I won't bustle him and the key will be to let him relax into the bridle.'
Moore yesterday gained permission for Craig Williams to ride Military Attack and confirmed riders for Same World (Brett Prebble), Zaidan (Olivier Doleuze), Dan Excel (Jeff Lloyd) and Smart Giant (Tim Clark).