Local activity took centre stage at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning with six trials on the All Weather track to make up for a trial free day last week on Good Friday so the international runners did not appear for their turn until well into a hot and humid morning.
Much earlier before the sun was up, around 3.40am, Eminent (IRE) went around the All Weather track to the satisfaction of connections the message came back to those who attended the track when the sun was up, this correspondent included.
In Monday’s column mention was made of Eminent racing in blinkers in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 13th, however the five-year-old Frankel entire raced in ear muffs, not blinkers.
The Racing NSW stewards’ report stated ‘When questioned, J. McDonald stated that his intention was to lead, however, He's Eminent, which was racing in ear muffs for the first time, did not respond to his urgings in the early stages and as a consequence, after beginning only fairly, raced back in the field. ‘
A planned gallop on the Turf Course by the Lloyd Kennewell trained Viddora (AUS) was rescheduled to either Wednesday or Thursday because of the later trackwork time.
Talk turned to the interesting question of who might lead in Viddora’s race, the HK$16m, Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) with many, if not most, of the leading contenders used to being off the lead before making their runs.
Expected to be sitting back in the field and assessing the race will be Santa Ana Lane (AUS), Viddora (AUS) and Rattan (NZ) with Mr Stunning (AUS) and Beat The Clock (AUS) just off the pace.
Turning to Beat The Clock’s trainer John Size did not provide any definitive view as well.
“I have not had a look. Viddora raced in Dubai and I watched that run, but I have not seen Santa Ana Lane,” said Hong Kong’s leading conditioner.
Size, though, did give a firm opinion of Beat The Clock’s chances in the 2019 renewal of the race after the five-year-old Hinchinbrook gelding’s third last year to Ivictory, his third in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint to Mr Stunning in December, his win in the Centenary Sprint Cup in January over Mr Stunning and second to Rattan in the Sprint Cup on April 7th.
“He has got to the correct age at the moment to be a good competitor, so his international run was his second run back form a spell, in which he was beaten and he has done well since then. He is going to go into the race in very good condition and a pretty strong horse,” said Size
“He has already won a Group 1 this season (Centenary Sprint Cup ) and if he repeats that it will be enough I think.
“He has been good, he is strong and he is sound. Thursday morning he will do something, but he is in good shape. I am very happy with him, he will be a strong contender,” he said.
Back to who will take Beat The Clock and his rivals into the sharp end of Sha Tin’s 1200m, the Japanese runner Nac Venus (JPN) might well conduct the role with Yutake Take up.
This throws up a warning. Take has stormed Sha Tin from the front before when A Shin Hikari (JPN) led all the way in the 2015 Longines Hong Kong Cup. At 50, Take is not short of experience at outsmarting his rivals.
Could Nac Venus, a six-year-old Daiwa Major mare, sustain a sprint run to help Take in such an effort is another question. A Group 3 winner in Japan, with Joao Moreira up, she also placed at Group 1 level behind Fine Needle in 2018. Perhaps the chasers should not give Take too much time to find out.
Nac Venus (JPN), picture Hong Kong Jockey Club