13 of the world’s best stayers will contest the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 14, including the Roger Varian-trained Farraaj.
The five-year-old gelding travelled to Australia during the spring from his home ground of Britain but only got one start, in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on November 1.
The gelding did well to finish the 2014 Mackinnon Stakes with a minor placing after overcome a wide start from barrier 14. Farraaj went forward early but got trapped three wide. He had the temerity to hit the front at the furlong after a tough run and only went under by one length.
Champion hoop Andrea Atzeni rode Farraaj in the Mackinnon Stakes, as well as eight of his past nine starts, and has travelled to Hong Kong to partner him in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup as well.
Atzeni believes the gelding would have been a winner if not for the unfortunately wide barrier draw and is hopeful of a better start to the HK$25 million Hong Kong Cup, for which he is a $7 in the betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au.
“He was probably a bit unlucky not to win the race at Flemington – he was drawn 14 of 14 and was kept three wide all the way,” Atzeni told Sky Racing from Hong Kong.
“The horse is very well, he’s quick out of the gate and if he gets a good draw, which is very important here, he’ll run a big race.
“With a better draw he might have won in Australia and the Cup is looking like a very open race this year.
“I know there might not be a lot of pace in the race but if we get a good draw and just get in behind the pace then I think we’ll be fine.”
The jockey partnered Farraaj in a solid bit of work at the Sha Tin track on Tuesday morning. It was the gelding’s first serious piece of exercise since landing in Hong Kong one week ago and he did well to stretch out over the 2000m distance.
Criterion, who looked like he could have missed the trip to Hong Kong after coming down with a case of colic, arrived in the country early Tuesday morning alongside sprinter Buffering, who will run in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
The Hong Kong-based Designs On Rome ($4) and Military Attack ($4.60) led the 2014 Hong Kong Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au. Place your bets on the international race day today!