It’s Derby day in Hong Kong this Sunday, and a former Irish horse called Akeed Mofeed took a firm grip on the first prize of more than $AUD 1.16 million at Thursday’s barrier draw.
Heading three strong chances in the race for second-season trainer Richard Gibson, Akeed Mofeed came with strong credentials from a brief two and three-year-old career in Europe and staked his claim for the Derby with an impressive win at his third run in Hong Kong last start.
A barrier three draw on Thursday and Douglas Whyte in the saddle, looking for his third Derby in four years, will ensure firm favouritism with Hong Kong punters.
Four trainers dominate the Derby numerically, John Moore, John Size, Caspar Fownes and Gibson send out 10 of the 14 runners. Moore is also three-handed but his best chance Ashkiyr suffered a blow when he drew barrier fourteen.
But the highlight race will still be the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup over 1,400m and worth less than half of the Derby prize.
California Memory aside, the top five horses in Hong Kong are Ambitious Dragon, Glorious Days, Lucky Nine and Thumbs Up and they will clash in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
Now eight, Thumbs Up has not run since May last year and may need the race despite his great fresh record, but opinions are divided on the winner in a clash of the best horses and riders in Hong Kong.
At 1,400m, Lucky Nine (Brett Prebble) has won three of four, including his defeat of Glorious Days in this race in 2012 – the only defeat for Glorious Days (Douglas Whyte) in five attempts at the distance. Ambitious Dragon (Zac Purton) has won two and finished second twice from five runs at 1,400m but since his career-making stable move to Tony Millard, he is two from two.
By Nathan Mody