Sidelined star Akeed Mofeed heads a handful of Hong Kong entries for the Royal Ascot meeting in June, but trainer Richard Gibson said yesterday that nominations for the stallion and his stablemate, Gold-Fun, were intended to keep the options open.
Akeed Mofeed is an entry for the 2,000 metre Prince Of Wales's Stakes on June 18, with Gold-Fun part of a three-horse Queen Anne Stakes entry along with Able Friend and Blazing Speed.
Gibson was buoyed on Tuesday by news that the injury that will keep Akeed Mofeed out of the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup on Sunday is not career-threatening and he did not rule out the possibility of further racing this season for the stallion.
"First we have to see how quickly Akeed Mofeed comes back from this injury, so we'll know more in a week, but the entries for Ascot are very early so they're both in to keep our options open and we're playing it by ear," Gibson said.
Other entries for Royal Ascot are Al Quoz Sprint winner Amber Sky in the King's Stand Stakes on June 17, and Golden Shaheen hero Sterling City, in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on June 21.
Closer to home, the Mike de Kock-trained QE II Cup runners, Vercingetorix and Sanshaawes, were on the track for the first time since their arrival, but it was a quiet appearance as they ambled around the all-weather track in the misty rain.
"They both travelled very well. They've arrived safe and sound and just needed a stretch of the legs," said de Kock's travelling assistant, Trevor Brown.
The Japanese-trained pair, Epiphaneia and Uncoiled, worked handily on the dirt without being asked for a full effort but both are expected to be tested on the turf course on Thursday.
Epiphaneia's work rider and groom, Hiroyuki Suzuki, commented that the four-year-old has improved noticeably since landing last Thursday: "He looks much better in his condition than he did after he first flew into Hong Kong. I think he is now moving into a higher gear as we get nearer to Sunday. He was quick to launch the bid this morning [and] had good concentration."
Meanwhile, Ireland's globetrotting Gordon Lord Byron has arrived from Sydney in very good condition ahead of the Champions Mile on Sunday week.
"They usually have a quiet day or so when they arrive but Gordon Lord Byron was already out stretching his legs this morning," said Jockey Club spokesman, Mark Player. "I don't think there's a better indication that a horse has travelled well."