Horse Racing
Tsui’s Hero needs more than Fight, all’s well in the Hong Kong camp

By David Morgan in Dubai
28/03/2019 16:17

Fight Hero faces tough opposition in the Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Fight Hero faces tough opposition in the Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Fight Hero jig-jogged along the chute to the main Meydan dirt track at 5.05am Thursday (28 March) morning as trainer Me Tsui observed rail-side.

“He’s more relaxed than in Hong Kong, this environment has helped him settle,” the handler said.

Tsui’s G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m, dirt) challenger was the first of Hong Kong’s four raiders to put his hooves on the track today. The trainer is happy with his charge, for whom Saturday’s test has been an aim since he ran a brave, unflinching second in the KOR G1 Korea Sprint (1200m) around one turn of Seoul’s sand track in September.

“I hope he can handle the track here – it’s different to Korea,” he said of the five-time Sha Tin dirt course winner.

The eight-year-old has been getting plenty of experience around the starting gates this week. Each day the gelding has circled behind and then walked through the stall, until today, when a blindfold was applied, the gates closed, and Fight Hero broke smartly without fuss.

“It’s just for education so he will be as relaxed as possible before the races, he’ll know what to expect,” Tsui said.

The trainer is pleased with how things have gone this week; from the flight over, to the trackwork, even the wide berth allotted at Wednesday’s barrier draw.

“Being drawn 10 is more suitable because he can stay out of the kick-back. He will probably be behind but we saw last year that the winner came from second-last. He was very wide in Korea but probably he will not have to be so wide here,” he said.

“After the first couple of days here he got his appetite and was eating properly and now his bodyweight is good.”

Fight Hero will not only need to live up to his name on Saturday night but also will have to be at his absolute peak – the Golden Shaheen will be the most difficult assignment of his life. The 10-strong field features four fast, top-class Americans – two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Roy H, X Y Jet, Promises Fulfilled and Imperial Hint. Hong Kong’s challenger is the lowest-rated horse in the field (104), 16lb inferior to top-rated Roy H and Imperial Hint. (This morning a cloud hung over Roy H’s participation in the race, with talk circulating about a foot problem).

But Sha Tin-trained runners have a fine record in the Dubai World Cup meeting’s dirt track speed test. Sterling City caused a shock when successful in 2014 (when the track was Tapeta) and both Rich Tapestry and Super Jockey made the frame in recent years.

Fight Hero cantered a couple of circuits this morning and Tsui was satisfied.

“He galloped 1200 metres earlier this week and this morning was a slow canter, two laps, just to keep him fit, and he’ll do the same again tomorrow and Saturday morning,” he said.

Rain foils Southern Legend

Rain curtailed Southern Legend’s morning plan.
Rain curtailed Southern Legend’s morning plan.

Southern Legend was supposed to school in the Meydan parade ring this morning but that plan was foiled when thunder rumbled, lightning flashed and the heavens opened. The downpour meant that trainer Caspar Fownes’ G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) candidate had to return to his stable after two laps at a floating canter across the dirt.

The talented bay, a front-running winner of last season’s SIN G1 Kranji Mile in Singapore and a multiple G1 place-getter in Hong Kong, will break from stall one on Saturday.

“It’s easy for him from gate one: I’ll just leave it to Zac (Purton) – he’ll jump, he’ll work it out,” Fownes said. “He’s versatile, as we saw when he won in Singapore, and the last run in the Gold Cup was huge. He’ll just find his own rhythm and up against the big boys and girls he’ll just race where he’s comfortable.

“I’m pretty confident he’ll grab a slice of the prize money but what position we end up in is hard to know – there are a lot of good horses in the race. But he’s a tough horse, he’s just behind the real elite in Hong Kong but he’s as consistent as you get, he’s a great horse to train.

“It’s exciting to race against Almond Eye to see how far off her at this stage we are,” he added.

Fownes has not hidden his admiration for Japan’s superstar filly and he is looking ahead to a possible Japanese assault in June.

“If everything goes well here and he comes out of it alright we’ll look at the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo in June,” he said.

No worries for Gibson pair

Gold Mount followed Wishful Thinker down the straight.
Gold Mount followed Wishful Thinker down the straight.

Trainer Richard Gibson made his way to the turn out of the home straight to watch Wishful Thinker and Gold Mount work down the rain-spattered stretch. Both worked through at an even tempo.

“I’m very happy with them, it was an easy stretch of the legs, no different from previous days, and things are good,” he said.

Wishful Thinker appeared to be in fine heart for his tilt at the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m, turf) and the same applied to Gold Mount as he warmed up for the G2 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m, turf).

Wishful Thinker’s rider dismounted after the horse pulled up but the issue was not related to the horse’s wellbeing and he was soon remounted and walked smoothly towards his stable.

“We were trying out a new race bridle and the buckle just became loose so it was nothing to be concerned about,” Gibson said.