'MIA' Meandre finally gets to test the waters
One racing wag says French master Andre Fabre invented the old idiom "loose lips sink ships", and a recent 24th title as the champion trainer of France suggests not many vessels have been sunk on his extended watch.
So it's not easy, at home in France or on Fabre's occasional forays into foreign lands, to get the inside running on his horses. But the facts on this occasion tend to speak for themselves as the 66-year-old master's Hong Kong Vase contender, Meandre, has been "missing in action" this week and only came out for the first time yesterday morning.
Meandre arrived on Saturday along with most of the European contingent. But unlike that majority, sources say, he did not travel well and has required veterinary attention to get him back on track - it took him four days to make it to trackwork which never happens when horses are fit and well.
Meandre looked bright, bordering on frisky as he cantered two laps of a sodden artificial track - one which used to be called the all-weather track in the days when it could cope with rain.
Although Fabre will not be attending the annual showcase at the weekend, Meandre looks as though he will make the big day and he carries great credentials - already a Group One winner in Germany this season and he gave Japanese superstar Orfevre some proper competition in the Prix Foy at Longchamp in September.
The four-strong Japanese contingent showed off their wares on the course proper, with sprint stars Curren Chan and Lord Kanaloa matching motors in a revealing gallop. The high-grade duo ran one-two in the rich Sprinters Stakes on September 30 and their trainers had no issue with pitting them together for 800 metres in 53.7 seconds, the last 400 in 23.5 and the final 200 in 10.87 - the quickest of the morning.
Lord Kanaloa, handled by champion jockey Yasunari Iwata, sat on the outside of the grey filly and always seemed to travel a fraction better, although they basically hit the line together, the photo finish man would have given it to the Lord.
Their Singaporean rival in the Hong Kong Sprint, Super Easy, later went a steady 800 in 57.6, the last 400 in 24.9 and improving into the final 200 in 11.7.
Japan's two Hong Kong Mile candidates also strutted their stuff in strong solo gallops. Grand Prix Boss was given an aggressive ride by his work rider and completed 1,000 in 1:01.9, the last 600 in 34.9, with the final 400 in 22.06.
Kyoto Mile Championship hero Sadamu Patek had a slightly easier time of things, merely given a soft niggle to keep him focused over the final 200. He clocked 1:17.85 for 1,200, the last 400 in 23.2 and the ultimate furlong in 11.39.