Trainer Caspar Fownes is “hopeful” Military Attack can overcome a leg injury in time to shore up n already shaky-looking local defence on December 11 as Japanese horses descend on the Longines Hong Kong International Races in record numbers.
Military Attack will be named in the field for the $25 million Group One Hong Kong Cup when runners for the four international races are released tomorrow, despite the veteran having suffered a recurrence of a leg injury when resuming from a long break last Sunday.
The former horse of the year pulled up with soreness in his lower left front leg after a gutsy third in Sunday’s Group Two Jockey Club Cup and Fownes is working overtime to help his eight-year-old recover for Hong Kong’s richest race.
Fownes confirmed the issue was with Military Attack’s previously damaged left suspensory tendon, the injury flaring up again after six months on the sidelines, and the trainer will now have to play a balancing act with the big race less than three weeks away.
“He will be on a swimming routine for a few days that will maintain his fitness, to get the sting back out of that suspensory, and if we can do that we are back in business,” Fownes said.
“He will be a fit horse, he has ran enormous first-up 2,000, he looked the winner at the 250m and just blew out the last little bit. Obviously he was just jarred up a little bit, but I am hopeful we can get him to international day.”
After failing in May’s Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, Military Attack spent four months out of work, but has also struggled with a number of other ailments in recent seasons.
If Military Attack does make it to the starting gates for the Hong Kong Cup he could face as many as six rivals from Japan, led by last year’s winner A Shin Hikari and superstar Maurice, switching distances to 2,000m after taking out the mile in 2015.
If early reports are correct, there could be as many as 12 horses in total from the powerful racing jurisdiction, which would surpass last year’s record of 10 runners.
The strength doesn’t stop at the longer distances races either, with Big Arthur and Red Falx, both Group One winners this year, likely to be named in the field for the $18.5 million Hong Kong Sprint.
Leading local trainer John Moore also confirmed Able Friend, fourth in Sunday’s Jockey Club Sprint after a long lay-off, had come through his return from injury unscathed and will take his place in the $23 million Hong Kong Mile.
It is unclear how many Japanese runners will contest the Mile but it appears certain the field will include 2016 Yasuda Kinen winner Logotype.
Also slated to run in the Mile is Noriyuki Hori-trained five-year-old Neorealism, who defeated stablemate Maurice in this year’s Group Two Sapporo Kinen and was an unlucky third in a roughhouse running of the Group One Mile Championship at Kyoto last Sunday.
Meanwhile, injured Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli has been told by doctors to take a cautious approach as he pushes to return from knee surgery.
Rispoli damaged knee ligaments and suffered a hairline fracture in his ankle in a spectacular fall two weeks ago at Happy Valley and underwent surgery last week.
The 28-year-old had hoped to return before his mid-season stint is due to end in March, but medical experts on Monday warned him to proceed steadily with his rehabilitation efforts.
“He said it’s better to take time now than to lose time later,” Rispoli said. “What he means is to not hurt myself trying to push too hard right away, just be careful. I’ll work hard and when I come back I will be 100 per cent and ready to go.”