Trainer Caspar Fownes was on the ground at Meydan on Thursday morning to see all he wanted to see from Gun Pit ahead of the gelding’s vital Group One test on Saturday night.
Hong Kong has two runners at Super Saturday, Rich Tapestry, favourite to win his second Mahab Al Shimaal, and Gun Pit, who lays down his credentials for inclusion in the world’s richest race, the US$10 million Dubai World Cup, when he runs in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three.
If Gun Pit proves unequal to the task, Fownes will accept an invitation to the US$ 1 million Godolphin Mile on the World Cup support programme, but is hoping the five-year-old can do enough to warrant an upgrade to the main event.
Historically, the Maktoum Challenge has been a significant pointer to the World Cup, so a good run even in defeat may be enough to get him a start.
“He did what I wanted this morning. He cantered twice around and everything looks right,” said Fownes who dashed from Happy Valley on Wednesday night for a flight to get him to Dubai in time for the workout.
“Gun Pit’s weight is spot on and his blood is too. The blood was a bit off on Monday, we had to treat him for a day or two, but now he’s good; he has eaten well and looks right on top form. Now we just have to see how he handles this dirt surface at Meydan and get a gauge on where he fits in.”
Gun Pit has drawn gate one for the 2,000m Group One and Fownes sees that as a positive factor for jockey Joao Moreira.
“They say it’s quite an on-speed track, so from one he’ll be just behind the leaders – he won’t be dug up to be there, but he’ll be positive enough to be in touch,” Fownes said.
Fownes also confirmed that veteran top liner Military Attack would not be a visitor to Sydney’s The Championships in the coming weeks despite his solid Gold Cup third on the weekend.
Military Attack held an entry for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but his trainer said the race was not seriously being considered for the eight-year-old.
“No, he’s not the sort of horse to travel with now, he has so many issues,” Fownes said. “He’ll just have a quiet week or two and we’ll get him ready for the QE II Cup here at home.”
Trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai was also giving positive vibes on the appearance and well-being of Rich Tapestry in Dubai.
The gelding won the Mahab Al Shimaal two years ago on the Tapeta surface in Dubai and comes off an all-the-way success in the Al Shindagha Sprint last month.