Dunaden to wind back the clock in an open Vase
Dunaden has become a standard fixture in the Longines Hong Kong Vase but trainer Mikel Delzangles has chosen a far tougher path to get the seven-year-old here this time around, with Sha Tin stop number three of a gruelling month-long campaign.
For the past two years the French handler has come from the Melbourne Cup straight to the Vase.
His 2011 Vase win followed victory in Australia's richest race, while 12 months ago the stallion was a flat fifth in the Vase following a disappointing 14th Down Under.
After another poor run in Melbourne, Delzangles went to Tokyo where Dunaden burst back into form with a strong fifth in the tough Japan Cup.
"We were a bit disappointed in Melbourne, but then he ran really well in Japan and he should run well here."
Dunaden wasn't committed to a Vase start before running in Tokyo, but his terrific run meant connections re-considered a third trip to Hong Kong.
The withdrawal of Autumn Gold allowed Dunaden to take his place in the field, where he has drawn 12.
Delzangles also revealing to media the horse had damaged a hoof in Japan.
"He lost a shoe in the Japan Cup and we found it on the bend but we could not figure out whether he lost it during the race or after," he said.
"Anyway, his hoof remained a little warm until his arrival here and the blacksmith has done a good job fixing it."
Despite the arduous travel schedule and the slight setback Delzangles believes he has his horse right.
Given his tough campaign, it's not a question of whether the seven-year-old is fit enough, with the stallion not partaking in a familiar turf gallop this week.
"The trick is just to keep him happy," Delzangles said.