Hill happy with Verdon's draw

Robin Parke

HONG KONG champion River Verdon drew barrier nine in the Cox Plate field of 14 yesterday and trainer David Hill had absolutely no complaints.

'Almost ideal. In a race like this River Verdon will be coming from behind so having an inside draw was no advantage whatsoever for us, rather the reverse,' said Hill.

'As we know, it's a fairly tight track at Moonee Valley and I would expect River Verdon to come from quite well back to make his final run. That is the way we have been discussing it,' he added.

Rough Habit has drawn the extreme outside barrier, but Hill expects similar tactics to be applied with the hardy New Zealander.

'I could see the two of us trying to come from roughly the same place,' he said.

The locally owned Danewin, who will be ridden by Jackie C. K. Tse, has drawn wide in barrier 11 but his win in the recent Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick came after an on-the-pace ride from the Hong Kong jockey.

If similar tactics are followed at Moonee Valley, his draw would be a disadvantage.

River Verdon's rider, John Marshall, flew back from Australia last night after giving the rising eight-year-old a good sounding out at Sandown yesterday morning.

He conferred with trainer Hill and said: 'You can't fault the way he is going. He is in great shape and ready for Saturday. I think he will run very well.' River Verdon has been very substantially supported for the Cox Plate, largely because his Sandown work has been favourably commented upon in the Melbourne media, and he will probably start at Moonee Valley in single figures.

There is no doubt that on the Hong Kong totalisator he will be favourite or very close to it.

Hong Kong International Bowl entry Lake Coniston has been replaced by first reserve Heart Lake trained by John Gosden.

Bin Ajwaad has been deleted from the reserve list, the two reserves are now Mutakddim and Alanees.

And in another International Race Day development, Britain's reserve in the Hong Kong International Cup, Fraam, has been deleted from the reserve list.