Two days after Aidan O’Brien withdrew two of his runners from the Hong Kong International Races, the fields have again been trimmed with two local gallopers removed.
The Group One Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) – the jurisdiction’s richest race at HK$28 million – is now down to nine runners, with the David Hayes-trained Dark Dream joining O’Brien’s Peaceful on the withdrawals list.
Hayes said in the build-up to Sunday’s Class One Chevalier Cup (1,600m) that he wanted to see Dark Dream “hitting the line nicely” but has decided to abort his international day plans after the six-year-old finished five and a half lengths behind winner Sky Darci in 11th.
Class 3 to Class 1? 1200 to 1600m?— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 29, 2020
No problems for Sky Darci who stamps himself as a leading Four-Year-Old Classic Series contender with a thrilling Chevalier Cup victory! #HKracing pic.twitter.com/RKy19RI41S
“He pulled up fine but I just didn’t think he was going well enough to take on the world,” Hayes said.
Hayes added that connections are seriously considering retiring Dark Dream from Hong Kong racing and taking the Group One Queensland Derby winner back to Australia to race, where he is likely to find softer tracks.
Dark Dream, who finished fourth in the 2019 Hong Kong Derby, hasn’t won since April last year.
Fast Most Furious turned in a better showing in the Chevalier Cup, finishing two and three quarter lengths closer to the winner to run seventh, but trainer David Hall has opted not to take his place in the Hong Kong Mile.
“He’ll have to run really well or win for him to take his place [in the Mile],” Hall said last week.
There will now be 11 runners in the Mile after O’Brien took Lope Y Fernandez out of the field on the weekend.