It's all coming together for Hong Kong raiders in Dubai
Veteran sprinter Joy And Fun and Frederick Engels are thriving, while Eagle Regiment seems set for miracle recovery from injury
As the world's richest race night approaches, the stars seem to be aligning for Hong Kong's trio set for the desert showpiece. Veteran Joy And Fun has been bouncing around the forgiving all-weather track like a three-year-old, the speed map reads perfectly for Frederick Engels and even the accident-prone Eagle Regiment had a "near disaster" turn out to be a blessing, and now seems more likely to run tomorrow at Meydan.
Joy And Fun and Frederick Engels have had perfect preparations for their respective events, the Al Quoz Sprint and Golden Shaheen, but it seemed certain that the travelling party would be reduced to two - and that Eagle Regiment would be withdrawn from the Al Quoz for the second straight year - but for a miraculous recovery yesterday.
The trainers of all three sprinters were upbeat at yesterday's "breakfast with the stars" trackwork session at Meydan, not least of all Eagle Regiment's relieved handler Manfred Man Ka-leung.
"The horse is very good. The vet has seen him this morning and he has improved a lot," he said. "We're more hopeful he will run now than we were yesterday. He still has to pass the vet again tomorrow to make sure there is no problem but I'm happy with his progress."
When Eagle Regiment stopped and spun while walking on Wednesday, he tore a shoe from his already sore left front hoof and the long odds of him starting in the US$1 million Group One contest up the Meydan straight drifted dramatically. But the incident forced a re-think of his shoeing, and the application of glue on plates may have remedied the situation.
"He is now more likely to start than he isn't, provided there are no more hiccups," said Emirates Racing Authority's veterinary steward David Sykes, who added the horse was "absolutely lame all over again" when he wrenched a plate off during a light walk on Wednesday.
"They were just unlucky in one way - he just stood on a heel and popped the shoe straight off. But luckily he hasn't done any damage doing that, he could have easily pulled a whole section of his hoof off and it would have been a disaster," he said.
"In the end it has allowed us to play around with a different shoe and the fact that there are no nails, pulling it tight, and he seems much more comfortable in them."
Not only has Frederick Engels drawn pole position for the race on the Tapeta, but it also looks like he will get a hard-run race, which would suit his sit-and-sprint style.
Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Trinniberg has drawn three and should cross Frederick Engels and Gordon Lord Byron to lead early, but he can expect pressure from another American speedster, Private Zone, coming across from gate 12. Adding to the on-pace pressure could be Japanese entrant Taisei Legend.
Frederick Engels' rider, Weichong Marwing, said he would try and strike a balance between not getting caught in the firing line and not losing sight of the leaders before he turns into the relatively short straight.
"There's going to be speed - there always is in this race," Marwing said. "On paper, it looks like it will play into our hands and we can be where we want to be."