Highland Reel limbers up for farewell appearance in Hong Kong
5 Dec 2017
Aidan O’Brien’s globetrotting star will bow out with third run in the Longines Hong Kong Vase
Highland Reel’s brilliant career has included three victories in Champions Series races
Aidan O’Brien’s five-strong raiding party for the Hong Kong International Races were put gently through their paces at Sha Tin on Tuesday.
O’Brien’s quintet include Highland Reel and Roly Poly, who between them have won five QIPCO British Champions Series races, plus Lancaster Bomber, Deauville and War Decree – who have also featured in the Series.
Highland Reel will have the final run of his distinguished career in the Longines Hong Kong Vase – a race he won two years ago and was a close second in 12 months ago.
On Tuesday, he was the leader of O’Brien’s pack when partnered in his work by regular exercise rider Davy Bergin.
“He knows he’s back here in Hong Kong, and he likes this place,” Pat Keating, O’Brien’s travelling head lad, said. “Davy’s happy with him.”
Oppositon to Highland Reel will include the Willie Mullins-trained Max Dynamite, another who has shone in the Champions Series.
“He’s well, he’s in good form and there’s no problem with how he’s taken the trip. I was pleased with his work this morning,” David Casey, rider and assistant to trainer Mullins, said.
Mullins, speaking from Ireland, added: “I am very happy with Max Dynamite and he has been working well. We would be delighted if he could make it into the first three in Hong Kong. He has recovered well from his run in the Melbourne Cup and has been fine since then. We are looking forward to him running at the weekend.
“The drop back in distance is not ideal, but it is what we have to do and he had some good form over shorter distances back in his younger days.”
Andrew Balding’s Blond Me, runner-up to Winter in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in August, continued her preparation for the Longines Hong Kong Cup with a canter on the all-weather track.
Poet’s Word, runner-up to Cracksman in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day in October, trotted in the sand ring.