Andrea Atzeni got reacquainted with Hong Kong Cup hope Farraaj in a steady turf gallop this morning as his travelling mate and the most renowned frequent flier in world racing Red Cadeaux relaxed into the familiar surrounds of Sha Tin with a lap of the all-weather track.
Atzeni has just started a three-month stint in Hong Kong but rode Farraaj at his last start, an unlucky third in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington, and will keep the ride in Sunday week’s HK$25 million feature.
The Italian guided Roger Varian’s five-year-old through a decent workout on the grass 13 days out from the main event, running just better than even time from the 1,200m and rolling home over the last 400m in 23.8 seconds.
“He is very straightforward and loves travelling. He looks good for this time of year – he is moving really well and that was a nice piece of work,” Atzeni said afterwards, adding that Sha Tin’s firm racing surface was actually a benefit to the English-trained galloper. “He doesn’t mind any track really … but the quicker the better, he loves fast ground and the good thing about Hong Kong and Australia is that you get firm ground, and that’s what he needs.”
Red Cadeaux arrived on the same flight as Farraaj last Tuesday and it is no surprise that the eight-year-old has made himself at home at what is his fourth trip to Sha Tin.
The Ed Dunlop-trained stayer’s companion through a globetrotting last three years has been Dunlop’s travelling foreman Robin Trevor-Jones, and he says the chestnut is in good order.
“He lost four kilos on the way to Melbourne and he lost four kilos to here, that seems to be the norm now,” he said after the three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up moved through a solid canter on the dirt. “He was a pretty fit horse leaving Australia, so we just monitor him by his weight. He seems pretty clean in his wind. We’re on course.”
Meanwhile, some pre-flight dramas may have caused a stir for Hong Kong Cup hope Criterion and nearly delayed the flight out of Melbourne carrying him and fellow Australian galloper Buffering, but Jockey Club vets reported that both horses had arrived with a clean bill of health.
Criterion had suffered a mild bout of colic last weekend and the health scare had threatened to delay his departure, but he was given the all-clear after arriving late last night.