French trainer Royer-Dupre a master at travelling right horses
Royer-Dupre has enjoyed success at Sha Tin and puts his faith in Giofra and Bayrir
The deeds of Americain may have brought leading French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre to southern hemisphere attention but Hong Kong learned some time earlier he commands serious respect whenever he turns up at Sha Tin in December.
More often than not, it is one of the fairer sex who represents the yard and De Royer-Dupre won the Cup with brilliant mare Pride in 2006 and the Vase with another filly, Daryakana, three years ago.
Almost invariably, his visitors have a similar profile - lightly raced and with a high winning percentage - and both four-year-old mare Giofra in the Cup and three-year-old colt Bayrir (Vase) satisfy the criteria.
With four wins from her eight starts, Giofra brings a twinkle to the eye of the master trainer and her excellent work yesterday gave some indication of why.
"Giofra has won a Group Two in France but more importantly she won a Group One, the Falmouth Stakes, at Newmarket and I think you need a genuine Group One horse to do that," he said.
"Not everything has gone right in her two races since then. In the Prix de l'Opera at the Arc meeting, she was not suited by the very soft ground.
"She wants a firm track and she is a tough filly, so she was the right kind of horse to bring to Hong Kong. This race is very hard but she has quality and she is looking very well."
De Royer-Dupre nominated French Derby winner Saonois as the horse he fears most, despite the presence of Cirrus des Aigles, and he has an arms-length connection to him, too.
"Saonois looks the right type of horse for the Cup, he has fantastic acceleration. His jockey, Antoine Hamelin, was my apprentice," he said.
In Bayrir, De Royer-Dupre has another with the excellent record of four wins from seven outings, including the Group One Secretariat Stakes in the US, but he said the colt's ultimate level was not easy to determine.
"Bayrir is a beautiful horse, only small but with a good mind, and he doesn't show you a lot in his training," he said. "Last year, I brought Vadamar for the Vase and he was a Group Two winner but hasn't done a lot since then as a four-year-old.
"I think that Bayrir has a better profile than Vadamar. His early career was very good. He won a listed race, a Group Two and then the Group One race in America. You can forget his run in the Arc - he is much better on good ground."
De Royer-Dupre said the colt was versatile tactically but he would still like to see a good speed in the Vase.
"I think three-year-olds are much better when the pace is good - they have more speed than the older horses, stronger acceleration - but as far as position is concerned he has all the options, and can be close or back depending mainly on the draw.
"He is fresh and we always felt the Vase was a good target. He travelled well to the US and won and he has travelled very well to Hong Kong. With a colt, you go step by step."