Free Judgement can star in Dubai, reckons Cheng
For the second week in a row a possible Dubai carnival campaign has been floated for a dirt-track specialist running out of ratings room on the local front, jockey Howard Cheng Yue-yin proposing Free Judgement head to the Middle East next year after back-to-back dominant wins on the all-weather track.
Cheng rode a treble, two of them for Sean Woods, with Free Judgement overcoming some bumps during the run and doing enough for his jockey to suggest he would be a serious contender on the Tapeta at Meydan.
"This horse is very good on this surface, but there will be no more races here for him now. He belongs in Group races," Cheng said of the six-year-old, whose rating will bounce from 95 into triple figures after the win.
"Maybe next season they can look at Dubai and find something for him there."
Last week Olivier Doleuze suggested Sprint Cup winner Rich Tapestry head abroad looking for all-weather track options, but yesterday he was intent on keeping Free Judgement in a pocket on runner-up Silver Grecian near the tail of the field.
"He was trying very hard to hold me in," Cheng said. "But I was very confident about my horse so I just waited and came around him."
The win was welcomed by the trainer, who was fined $100,000 by stewards on Tuesday for comments relating to the horse's dramatic form reversal last start. Woods said he would appeal.
"I'm delighted - he has come out and won despite going up seven [points] in the handicaps … he can keep on winning and improving. He will go over 100 now, and things will be more difficult for him, but he seems to have got his act together," said Woods, who believed his horse has something to offer on the turf.
"I see no reason why he won't be as good on the grass - his highest rating he won off - 95, the same as today - was on the grass, and he has run some good races in defeat this year on the grass."
Free Judgement was a two-time Group Two winner in Ireland and was second to Canford Cliffs in the 2010 Irish 2000 Guineas. He won his second start over 1,600m on the Sha Tin turf in February 2011, before going winless until this season. He has now won three times over 1,650m on the all-weather track this term.
Cheng and Woods also combined with Rainbow Seeker - a seven-year-old Trainer Syndicate horse who hadn't won since October 2010.
The "flavour of the month" factor for new jockey Tommy Berry probably cost Cheng his favoured ride in the race, but it turned out to be a blessing as he landed the ride on the winner.
"I was very lucky to even be riding in the race, I preferred to ride Able Dragon and wait for him, but [trainer] Me Tsui [Yu-sak] said he wanted to use the new jockey," Cheng said.