Win, lose or draw when Kinsale King tries to become only the second horse to successfully defend his title in the US$2 million Golden Shaheen, trainer Carl O'Callaghan is keen to be in Hong Kong next December with the six-year-old.
'I had intended to be there last December with him, but he's always had problems with his feet and that flared up again and we had to call it off,' said the popular California-based Irishman, who won his first Group One last year at Meydan and celebrated with an Irish jig in the enclosure.
O'Callaghan, who spent three years living on the street in New York before he started in racing, has held a trainer's licence for just a handful of years, but is an unabashed fan of travelling to the world's great meetings, despite some criticism that he asked too much of Kinsale King last year.
'Well, some people said that but I can't see it. We came here and won, we went to Royal Ascot and he ran third. The only run he had that wasn't really on the plan was at Newmarket when he ran poorly, but after that he had a good break before I got him ready for this race,' O'Callaghan said. 'And I'd rather be here than at home with him. For one thing, his feet are much better here in the dryness and the heat. If he stayed home, it's pouring with rain and the best option would have for him would be a US$50,000 race in a couple of weeks. I'd rather be here running for a couple of million.'
Caller One (2001, 2002) is the only two-time winner of the sprint, and O'Callaghan says Kinsale King is going just as well now as when he beat Rocket Man 12 months ago, though it isn't the sizeable Asian contingent in the race that bothers him. 'I'm just a bit intimidated by Euroears - I can't believe I've come halfway around the world for a race and have to run into Bob Baffert,' he said. 'I can do that at home.'