Visitors step up their preparations for Hong Kong International Races
Luca Cumani-trained stayer Mount Athos completed what might be his final piece of trackwork ahead of the Group One Longines Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) with a strong turf gallop at Sha Tin on Saturday morning.
With Zac Purton filling in for raceday jockey Craig Williams, the Melbourne Cup third-placegetter worked over 1,400m out wide on the track and got home in 22.6 seconds for his final 400m split.
“That was exactly what we wanted from him: good, solid work,” Cumani’s long-serving international assistant Charlie Henson said after the workout. “The horse is fit, but it was his first time on the turf here at Sha Tin and he seemed to handle the ground well.”
Purton, who will ride John Moore-trained Dominant in the Vase, said it was a good chance to “get a feel for the opposition".
“We really let him down from the 600m and let him stretch his legs in the straight, he levelled out really well,” Purton said.
“He was solid on the line and worked right through the line, as you would expect from a Melbourne Cup runner coming back to the Vase.”
He was one of a number of horses to step out for their first serious work since arriving in Hong Kong, with fellow Vase contenders Red Cadeaux and Dandino both stepping out for an easy gallop on the all-weather track.
Last year's winner Red Cadeaux was not asked to do much, recording a final last 400m of 30.8 seconds, while Marco Botti's Dandino was similarly under a hold over his last 400m, coming home in 27.7 seconds.
Group One Longines Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) contender Side Glance had a more serious gallop on the turf, cantering a lap before building up along the back straight to work strongly over his last 1,200 metres, his final 400m in 23.2 seconds.
In an encouraging sign, American galloper King Kreesa stretched his legs on the all-weather track.
He was considered to be in some doubt for the Group One Longines Hong Kong Mile (1,600m) after contracting travel sickness, but this morning's appearance was a positive step in his preparation.