Connections of French colt Ming Dynasty not only have history against them in Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Vase but will be praying the feisty competitor doesn’t suffer a pre-race meltdown when he walks into Sha Tin’s intimidating parade ring.
Ming Dynasty has won four from five in France and has the look of a horse on the rise but no three-year-old has ever won the Vase and just one of the 19 to attempt international day’s longest race have placed in the event.
Of far bigger concern than the record books for trainer Mikel Delzangles and jockey Umberto Rispoli is how Ming Dynasty will handle the occasion, with the only defeat for the son of King’s Best a disastrous sixth of seven after he became fractious in the lead-up to the Group Two Prix Niel.
“He was upset, he was sweating, he was out of his mind,” said Rispoli, who was not aboard for that lone defeat.
“I hope that with a lot of people around on race day he will not get upset. It has only happened once though, and in the following race when we came back to Chantilly he was calm and he won very easily.
“This is a big jump up in class for him, but I’m unbeaten in four races on him, and I have a lot of confidence in the horse.”
Delzangles admitted that as good as Ming Dynasty could be, he lacks the street smarts of some of his tough staying rivals and whatever the result this experience would be of enormous benefit for his youngster.
“He can get a bit stressed before the race, but that is partly why we are here, to help him learn and mature,” Delzangles said. “It’s a new experience for him, the travel and the race, and hopefully it helps him.”
The trainer sought to address the pre-race nerves by taking Ming Dynasty through Sha Tin’s cavernous parade ring during the week for a test and was happy with the results.
“He was good. Actually, it was just the one time that he got nervous before the race, and before the Prix Niel he had only three weeks between runs, and it was probably too close. He needs at least four weeks between runs and this time he comes in with a longer break.”
Dezangles won the Vase in 2011 with Dunaden and said outside of last year’s winner Flintshire, there were no clear standouts.
“After Flintshire it is quite even, I think,” he said. “It is a good race but it is open. I’m not saying my horse can win, but maybe he can show some promise.”
Rispoli returns for the first time this season and the Italian has enough local knowledge not to expect a truly run race.
“Of course we would like there to be some pace in the race, but we drew barrier three which is perfect. I will let him jump out and settle as he wishes. I don’t want to chase him too much.
“He has a turn of foot and he is a good fighter but I know Hong Kong and I cannot get too far back. Last year Flintshire was able to come from last when they went slow, but that is Flintshire. I will try to find a nice horse to follow into the race,” Risploi said.