Xtension to face Dragon and Memory
John Moore didn't get his wish for Xtension to gain a run in the world's richest race, with the five-year-old remaining in the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free, a race Hong Kong seemingly has a stranglehold on with three star runners.
Probable fields have been released for Saturday week's desert showpiece, where Xtension will square off against domestic rivals Ambitious Dragon and California Memory over 1,800m on the turf.
All three have their final serious hit-out before departing in a 1,000m turf trial this morning at Sha Tin.
The trio are likely to head betting for the Duty Free against a relatively modest field, which includes last year's winner Presvis, Musir and Hong Kong Mile runner-up Cityscape.
The US$10 million Dubai World Cup, which Moore was hoping to have Xtension compete in, was rocked by the withdrawal of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom last week.
The main event features Game On Dude, So You Think and champion filly Royal Delta, plus a pair of horses coming off strong performances on International Day at Sha Tin - Silver Pond and Zazou.
The Derek Cruz-trained Joy And Fun won the Al Quoz two years ago over 1,200m, now a 1,000m straight race on the turf, and his biggest danger might be compatriot Eagle Regiment.
While the Al Quoz looks skinny, Lucky Nine is likely to face stiffer opposition in the Golden Shaheen (1,2000m) on the Tapeta, with Singaporean Rocket Man back to defend his crown.
Also entered in the US$2 million sprint are former champion Australian juvenile Sepoy and the dominant winner of the Mahab Al Shimaal at the Super Saturday lead-up meeting, Krypton Factor.
Ambitious Dragon, Eagle Regiment and Joy And Fun depart Hong Kong tomorrow, while the remaining horses fly out on Saturday.
Xtension's jockey Jeff Lloyd has been given permission to miss the Happy Valley meeting next Wednesday in order to help with the horse's preparation. All jockeys riding at the World Cup meeting will be back for the Sha Tin meeting on April 1.