Giant Treasure to stamp Dubai Turf claims with victory in Hong Kong Gold Cup
Richard Gibson-trained Giant Treasure has a test today at 2,000m but he also has some of the freshest legs in the HK$10 million Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup and can earn himself a trip to Dubai by taking his second Group One.
Giant Treasure (Christophe Soumillon) has had one prior attempt at the trip when he finished fifth in Luger's very fast 2015 Derby. There were no excuses, he finished where he was able but if that sounds disappointing, it wasn't as his run there was as good as any assignment he had turned in up to that stage.
He seems a slightly better horse this season as a five-year-old getting to his peak so the extra 400m might suit him coming on from his Stewards' Cup win last start over the mile.
Soumillon suggested straight away that a longer trip could suit the grey, who kept grinding away to the line at the finish of 1,600m and today's race is not only an attempt to win another major event but a trial to see if he might be suitable for the US$6 million Dubai Turf over 1,800m at Meydan in a month.
Dan Excel and Flame Hero appear the only candidates for leading, although it was noted that trainer Peter Ho Leung said after Flame Hero's recent win at Happy Valley that he wanted the horse ridden cooler and it was successful. That leaves Dan Excel, an all the way winner in Singapore last year, who gets to control the speed.
That promises a soft tempo with Giant Treasure able to settle halfway back in the field in the first five or six and get just a rolling speed to assist the miler to make the transition to 2,000m, with the likelihood he will only have to get serious and sprint from the top of the straight.
Giant Treasure is opposed mostly by horses two or three seasons his senior, with the miles on the clock to show for it, but theoretically better suited at 2,000m than they were chasing him home over the mile.
Designs On Rome (Tommy Berry), Military Attack (Zac Purton) and Blazing Speed (Neil Callan) all performed well in the Stewards' Cup. finding the line strongly and they all still have races in them.
They all ran home as fast or faster than Giant Treasure at the end of the mile but will need to again as at least one or two of them will give the younger horse a start.
Caspar Fownes-trained Military Attack, seeking his third Gold Cup, finished as well as Designs On Rome in the Stewards' Cup but has shown in the past he doesn't have to be ridden out the back - unlike John Moore's star - and that versatility makes him the main danger here.