A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
Ex-pat Australian hoop Nash Rawiller is confident of Preferment’s 2015 Hong Kong Vase chances on Sunday after riding the Chris Waller-trained galloper in a solid Sha Tin workout this week.
Out to become the first Australian-trained winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m), Waller’s four-year-old Zabeel stallion Preferment makes his international debut this weekend on Hong Kong International Race Day.
He may have won just three of his 16 career starts to date but two of those were in Group 1 company with success in last year’s Victoria Derby over 2500m and this year’s Turnbull Stakes over 2000m at Flemington in early October.
Since his Turnbull win Preferment has had two unplaced assignments when ninth to stablemate Winx in the Cox Plate (2040m) and a disappointing 20th when failing to see out the two miles strongly in the iconic Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3.
Back to the mile and a half, which he hasn’t raced over since an eighth to subsequent Caulfield Cup champion Mongolian Khan as a three-year-old in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) in early April, he gets the chance to atone this weekend overseas.
Rawiller last rode Preferment in the Cox Plate before Hugh Bowman took over in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
In the Hong Kong Vase Bowman is back aboard but it was Rawiller who put the horse through his paces on Monday morning over 800m on the turf that he covered in 56.2 seconds including a final 400m sectional in 25.7 seconds.
“He felt good. He’s very fit and you wouldn’t think he’d need any more work,” Rawiller said according to AAP.
“That will have cleaned him up nicely.”
Also giving the horse a glowing pre-Hong Kong Vase review was Joanne Taylor who has been preparing Preferment since he touched down last week will Waller not arriving in Hong Kong until this Thursday.
“He’s settled in well,” she said on Monday.
“That was what we wanted to see from him this morning.
“You’d call it maintenance work and routine for the stable.
“He’ll possibly have another gallop on the grass on Wednesday or Thursday but that will be quieter again.
“He doesn’t need much.”
Preferment currently occupies the second line of Hong Kong Vase betting through Ladbrokes.com.au at $6, equal with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Highland Reel who ran third in the Cox Plate on debut down under.
The Galileo stallion also worked well at Sha Tin on Monday, O’Brien’s stable foreman Pat Keating delivering a glowing report.
“He’s done plenty of travelling and he took the trip over here in his stride,” he said.
The other ace Australian representative on Sunday is the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained four-time Group 1 winner Criterion who runs in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Runner-up in the Cox Plate on October 24 before his eye-catching third in the Melbourne Cup, five-year-old Sebring stallion Criterion has his third run at Sha Tin on Sunday.
His first run at the track was in last year’s Hong Kong Cup when third behind Designs On Rome before he ran third again over the same distance in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes this April.
Criterion is the $5.50 second pick in Hong Kong Cup betting behind last year’s winner Designs On Rome and Free Eagle at $5 each.
Also in the mix for Australia is Lucia Valentina, Kris Lees’ dual Group 1 winning mare a $15 hope on the back of her Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) win at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day.
Criterion will have Craig Williams aboard on Sunday while Damien Oliver continues his association with Savabeel five-year-old Lucia Valentina.
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