Ed Dunlop, whose exploits with Ouija Board, Snow Fairy and Red Cadeaux have made him the most successful European trainer at the Hong Kong International Races in recent years, was aptly the first to be found trackside at Sha Tin on Wednesday.
His hopes in Sunday’s mile and a half Hong Kong Vase rest with Red Verdon, an outsider carrying the colours of local owner Ronnie Arculli.
James Doyle’s mount was prevented by a foot abscess from contesting the Melbourne Cup and Dunlop praised the sporting attitude of Arculli for redirecting the horse to Hong Kong.
He said: “I’ve been very lucky to be able to compete here with horses like Ouija Board, Snow Fairy and Red Cadeaux and Ronnie is one of the people that made it possible.
“We won the Vase with Red Cadeaux which is one of the great memories, but with Red Verdon we have to be realistic, especially considering the dilemmas he went through in Australia.
“Having said that I am very happy with him now, and the way he’s got over those problems. He bruised a foot which turned into an abscess that burst, but my staff were brilliant, as they always are.
“Looking at the race the horse of Mr Fabre’s (Waldgeist) should win on the ratings but our horses is fresh and well and he should improve.”
It was a busy morning on the training and turf courses with fellow Vase candidates Eziyra, Latrobe, Mirage Dancer, Salouen, Rostropovich and Waldgeist being put through their paces.
Hong Kong Mile contenders Beat The Bank and One Master enjoyed some routine exercise whilst sprinter Sir Dancealot stretched out impressively.