Akeed Mofeed entered for Centenary Vase in warm-up for Gold Cup
Gibson decides to give HK Cup winner an earlier race to be spot on for February test
Hong Kong Cup hero Akeed Mofeed has made a left turn in his preparation to make a cameo appearance in Sunday's Group Three Centenary Vase, but trainer Richard Gibson has warned punters not to expect the best version of his star.
The trainer had planned to start Akeed Mofeed next in the Group One Citibank HK Gold Cup on February 23, some 11 weeks after his win on international day.
"This wasn't on the schedule at all but, as we have seen with the horse throughout his career, he's a big, strong stallion and puts on condition easily, so he needs constant racing to keep him fit," Gibson said on Monday.
"He took the race well on international day and I'm happy with him in general, but he needs a race if he's going to turn up spot on for the Gold Cup, which is one of our key objectives with Akeed Mofeed for the season."
And Gibson was at pains to water down public expectations for the Hong Kong Cup winner when he returns to handicap conditions at the Lunar New Year meeting.
"Of course, he's out there to win the race, but the big message that I really want to get out to the public is that Akeed Mofeed will be only 85 per cent for the Centenary Vase after an eight-week break. He has a big weight and it won't be easy for him," Gibson said.
"He's a quality animal, so he might be too good anyway but win, lose or draw, the race will be the trampoline into having him 100 per cent in the Gold Cup."
The Centenary Vase does not usually attract a runner with the profile of Akeed Mofeed, as Gold Cup contenders usually prefer the Stewards' Cup under terms.
This season's edition has a greater than usual depth, with several Group One performers set to line up, and that is shown by last year's winner of the Vase under 129 pounds, Pure Champion, dropping to 119 pounds in the race this time.
The last winner with a similar background to Akeed Mofeed to win with the 133 pound top handicap was Super Kid in 2006.
Gibson said Akeed Mofeed would definitely campaign at the Dubai World Cup meeting, but no decision on his assignment had been made yet.
"His immediate target race is the Gold Cup and what comes after that we'll think about after we get through it," Gibson said.
He also said plans for his other stable star, Gold-Fun, are up in the air after the five-year-old's disappointing run in the Stewards' Cup.