Mirage Dancer may provide a pick-me-up for Sir Michael Stoute as he carries owner Prince Khalid Abullah’s hopes of another globe-trotting triumph into the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
Veteran trainer Stoute is currently recovering after a knee operation and will therefore be unable to travel next week to see whether his improving four-year-old can continue Juddmonte Farm’s all-conquering recent run.
After the memorable Breeders’ Cup wins of Abdullah’s dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable – and Expert Eye for Stoute – the owner’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe is certainly hoping so.
“Unfortunately, his trainer Sir Michael will not be in Hong Kong because he cannot travel – having recently undergone knee surgery,” said Grimthorpe.
“Happily, the horse is moving better than he is!”
Mirage Dancer followed his runner-up spot behind subsequent Group One winner Best Solution in this summer’s Princess Of Wales’s Stakes with a Group Three victory of his own at Glorious Goodwood – ahead of the reopposing Red Verdon – and then a short-head second at the same level on unsuitably soft ground at Newbury in September.
Grimthorpe is therefore optimistic the Frankel colt can prove he is ready for Group One company on December 9 as he bids to follow up the 2014 Vase victory which Flintshire provided in the same colours.
“This will be Mirage Dancer’s first start in a Group One race – but his form stands up well enough, and we are looking forward to the challenge of running him in Hong Kong,” he added.
“The horse is progressive, he is well – and we have been pleased with his recent gallops.
“It is true to say we have had the Longines Hong Kong International Races in mind since the summer.”
Like the high-profile owner, Stoute also has a previous Vase win on his CV – thanks to Daliapour in 2000.
Mirage Dancer will be ridden at Sha Tin by Ryan Moore, “subject to availability”, and Grimthorpe said: “He is a fresh horse, having not run for a while.
“We thought about running him in the Canadian International, but aimed him for Champions Day at Ascot instead – and then the ground went against him.
“He should get fast ground in Hong Kong, which is what he wants.”