ALMOND TEAM BRANCHING OUT AHEAD OF HKIR MISSION
Almond Eye is coming to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Cup.
The midweek announcement came as a surprise to many but connections of the star Japanese filly feel that the headline event of LONGINES HKIR week is an ideal target having been assured that recent civil unrest will not impact on the December 8 showpiece.
Silk Racing CEO Masashi Yonemoto told asian-racinghub.com that "the Japan Cup was a consideration but after checking the horse after the Tenno Sho we decided to give her more time."
"We have been in regular contact with HKJC officials with regards to any possible issues and we are not concerned about safety. This is not intended to be her last run."
FILLY FACTOR ADDS INTRIGUE TO EYE DECISION
Entries for all four Group 1 HKIR contests will be confirmed on November 20 but Almond Eye's presence elevates the event to a new level and the Lord Kanaloa filly will be bidding to complete a memorable year for Japanese globetrotters.
insert pic of Almond Eye
Almond Eye started the ball rolling by winning the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March. Win Bright gave it extra momentum with a track record breaking success in the QEII Cup at Sha Tin in April, while Deirdre (Goodwood), Lys Gracieux (Moonee Valley) and Mer De Glace (Flemington) have all landed international Group 1 prizes for Japan in the second half of the season.
And the fact that Almond Eye is a brilliant female adds an extra layer of intrigue. Fillies play little or no part in Hong Kong racing on a week-to-week basis but their record in major HKIR contests is impressive, with global stars such as Sunline, Alexander Goldrun, Pride, Ouija Board and Snow Fairy all galloping to glory at Sha Tin over the years.
SIZE HOLDS THE KEY WITH FIVE SHOTS AT THE CUP
What price is the right price when leading Hong Kong Derby hope Champion’s Way reappears in the Panasonic Cup at Sha Tin this Saturday?
John Size’s gelding won six from seven in his first season, earning a mark of 108 after a decisive G3 success on his final start, and the Champion Trainer reports him “healthy and well” after a recent trial success.
However, the trainer is also mindful that the four-year-old “got to a very high figure” in his first season and the fact that he also runs four others in the £280,000 handicap could prove significant.
Red Warrior (formerly Rusper when winning three from four for Jamie Osborne) is the only horse to have beaten Champion’s Way so far but Size suspects he is “not quite fit enough” to repeat the dose after a break.
By contrast, Size feels that Time To Celebrate is “in tremendous form” for his reappearance. The consistent six-year-old ended last season with several excellent runs in defeat and appears primed and ready for another bold effort based on his trainer’s comments.
ALDO DEPARTS DESPITE PROFITABLE START
One star who will not be at Sha Tin anytime soon is South African rider Aldo Domeyer, whose short-lived riding career in Hong Kong has come to an end after a highly encouraging start.
Domeyer partnered 13 winners during the closing months of last season and added another four in the opening weeks of this term before returning home to be with his pregnant partner.
Those 17 winners had collected a total of around £2m in prize money but the call of home appears to have won out for the 32-year-old, who has decided to remain on home soil due to "family commitments" and has had his Hong Kong licence withdrawn with immediate effect.