The barrier draws for the feature Group 1’s on FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin on Sunday were conducted at the course on Thursday morning with two runners of considerable Australasian interest drawing wide and one drawing in, but really having no import into the expected result of that race.
John Moore’s world rated champion miler Beauty Generation (NZ) drew barrier two for the HK$18m, Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) in a small field of seven. Such is Beauty Generation’s dominance of Hong Kong’s 1600m races the six-year-old Road To Rock gelding has not been beaten in eight races since winning this race last year.
The six-time Group 1 winner has earned stakes of HK$76.7 million and he is expected to add the first prize money stake of HK$10.26 million to that total on Sunday. He could have drawn anywhere in the field and his favourite status would not have altered.
The Sir Mark Todd trained Eminent (IRE) drew barrier 12 from a field of 13 for the $HK24 million, Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) which might make jockey James McDonald’s task a little harder if the plan is to send Eminent forward.
The experiment of using ear muffs on Eminent in last race in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at Randwick on April 13th has been a well flagged as a failure. Eminent was expected to roll forward in the manner that he has enjoyed in previous races, including when second to Avilius (GB) in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes over 2000m at Rosehill on March 23rd.
However he flopped out of the barriers, raced at the rear of the field and stayed there.
Eminent working on the Turf Course on Thursday, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Wit no ear muffs on Sunday it is expected that Eminent will take up a prominent position in the Cup to allow his free running ability to be best used. With the short run from the 2000m barrier position to the first turn at Sha Tin should McDonald want to be forward he will have to move smartly and charge quickly from barrier 12 which will make for an interesting start.
Todd has been pleased with Eminent all week and while he is understandably cautious about raceday the week has gone well in the daily work.
“He is an amazing horse, he is still a stallion, he just copes with everything in the travel, he enjoys the company as he travelled with Enzo’s Lad from Sydney. He is a very independent horse as well, but he has arrived, he drank well, eaten well, appears bright, so very happy,” said Todd on Thursday.
“We have had one good run with him and one bad run, so I am a bit nervous about making any predictions. All I can say that the horse is happy and bright and I guess the draw with have a little bit in influence,” he said.
Hugh Bowman, though, will not have similar choices to make with barrier 10 for Anthony Freedman’s Santa Ana Lane (AUS) in the HK16 million, Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m). The Lope de Vega six-year-old gelding races back in his fields and Bowman will sit and watch from that position.
Santa Ana Lane was 10th at the 400m in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes over 1200m at Randwick on April 6th, yet he won the race with 3 1/2L in hand with a devastating turn of foot down the middle of the track. Like Beauty Generation, his barrier position will not impact his favourite’s status.
In an additional note the Australian mare Viddora (AUS) drew barrier seven for the sprint and trainer Lloyd Kennewell is now 60/40 hopeful the mare will be able to take her place in the field after being found to lame behind on Wednesday.