Olivier Doleuze has not only landed a long-awaited Group One ride with D B Pin in the Hong Kong Sprint but is on a horse he feels is a live hope and ready to peak on the day.
The 45-year-old missed most of the 2015-16 season with a shoulder injury and, like many other riders, has struggled for opportunities since his return, especially in Group races.
“Since I hurt my shoulder I haven’t had a chance to ride in the internationals so it’s great to have a chance,” said Doleuze, whose last Group One ride was two-and-a-half years ago aboard Rich Tapestry in the 2015 KrisFlyer International Sprint in Singapore and last win at top level was his memorable triumph aboard the same horse in the 2014 Grade One Santa Anita Sprint.
“It is a lot better than watching in the jockeys’ room or at home.”
Doleuze’s last international day ride was in 2013 when he rode Gold-Fun to second in the Hong Kong Mile, a race he had won three times previously on Good Ba Ba (2007, 2009) and The Duke (2006).
D B Pin will be one of four John Size-trained runners in the Sprint, along with nominal favourite Mr Stunning, Amazing Kids and Thewizardofoz.
Doleuze rode D B Pin to a solid third in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint two weeks ago, when the five-year-old struck interference at the 300m mark and flashed home late.
“International day is like a big fight or a big soccer game, you don’t want to have a tough preparation because you will have nothing left when you need it on the biggest day,” Doleuze said.
“He got that interference last start but maybe it will benefit him, it saves that little bit of energy for his next run and the big one. We didn’t dig into the tank too much. I’m not riding the 2-1 favourite, but I have a chance in the race. On the big day, if everything goes right, with a good barrier and a clear run – he can run well.”
D B Pin was one of six international day contenders to trial on the dirt on Friday, finishing third behind sprint rival Not Listenin’tome (Tommy Berry) in a 1,050m hit out.
“That was just for fun, we weren’t there to show off, we know what he has inside and the boss knows what to do. The horse is well and I’m happy with him,” Doleuze said.
Most of the international day entrants simply went through the motions nine days out from their respective races but there was some concern expressed about the effort of Helene Paragon (Berry), who finished at the tail of a 1,200m trial.
Trainer John Moore was nonplussed, explaining the dual-Group One winner was wearing pacifiers in
the trial and that had contributed to the dull showing.
“I wouldn’t read too much into Helene Paragon’s trial,” he said. “He’s had an eye issue, and for that reason he wore a hood and a pacifier and I put him in a wide gate so he didn’t get any sand kicked in his eye.
“The pacifier takes out a lot of the light and then you’ve got the hood on so he was always going to be a little more subdued than usual. Tommy just said he never got out of first gear.”
“He’s physically well and ready to go, though. He’ll gallop next Thursday with a lead horse and I’m sure you’ll see more spark than today.”