Panfield looks certain to face a wave of overseas raiders whichever Group One he contests at the Hong Kong International Races but trainer Tony Millard is looking no further than Glorious Dragon and Sunday’s Group Two BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).
Millard will decide after the race whether he sends Panfield to the Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) or the Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) but is not getting ahead of himself with his Chilean import, who won three Group Ones in his homeland before adding May’s Champions & Chater Cup to his CV.
“He’s fit and well, he going along nicely but it’s going to be a tough race. The grey horse [Glorious Dragon] has had two barrier trials and if he is not ready now he never will be. He’s going to be seriously hard to beat,” Millard said.
“I’m just looking at Sunday, that’s where my focus is at the moment and then after that it’s a different story. He’s fit and he’s well, he needs a little bit of luck – in these small fields, what happened to the grey horse can happen to you as well.”
Glorious Dragon, who started his Hong Kong career with Millard before moving to Francis Lui Kin-wai, first had no luck when 10th behind Panfield in the Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) last month before again striking trouble in the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1,800m) a fortnight ago and looks the pick of Panfield’s rivals.
Panfield, who will be ridden by Karis Teetan, jumps from barrier four and Ka Ying Star, Columbus County, Russian Emperor, Reliable Team and Savvy Nine round out the field, with Harry Bentley climbing aboard the latter for Douglas Whyte.
Bentley, who is still establishing himself in Hong Kong after arriving in April, also partners Preciousship in the Group Two BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile and is one of only a handful of jockeys with multiple feature rides on the day.
“Obviously we haven’t had many Group races this season so to be in two of them on Sunday is great, you want to be competing at the top level,” Bentley said.
Savvy Nine steps up after running third over 1,800m in a Happy Valley Class Two earlier this month and will be one of the outsiders in the field, but Bentley is hopeful he can hold his own.
“Earlier this year he won a Group Three and this is another step up from that so he obviously needs to build on what he’s done to date but it’s only a seven-horse field,” he said.
Bentley concedes Preciousship is running for a consolation prize in the Jockey Club Mile but Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s six-year-old does bring strong form into the race after beating home the likes of Sky Darci and Waikuku when finishing second to Panfield in the Sha Tin Trophy.
“He was carrying a light weight but even so, he put it to them and ran a really good race for his first run this season. It’s obviously Golden Sixty’s race to lose but I’m going in with a place chance,” the jockey said.
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