Smart Call a long shot in Hong Kong
London bookmakers quote the former Alec Laird inmate as a rank outsider at 50-1
Smart Call, the winner of the 2016 Met at Kenilworth, is friendless in the betting market for her test against serious overseas opposition in Sunday’s $2.3m Hong Kong Vase.
In Sir Michael Stoute’s care in England, the mare cut little ice during the UK summer so she has been sent to the former British colony hoping to find her best form in the 2,400m event.
London bookmakers quote the former Alec Laird inmate as a rank outsider at 50-1 and form pundits do not see her troubling a trio of French raiders or Ryan Moore’s mount, Highland Reel.
Smart Call arrived in Hong Kong last Saturday and the Turf Club said she worked at three-quarter pace on the turf on Wednesday morning, running the final 600m in 40.45sec.
Kiseki, from Japan, and Highland Reel share favouritism in the Vase at 5-2 and the latter is expected to run well for the powerful Aidan O’Brien team. Travelling head lad Pat Keating said: "He knows he’s back in Hong Kong and likes the place."
A strong French challenge is led by Andre Fabre’s Talismanic at 4-1 in the ante-post market, while Tiberian, trained by Alain Couteil, is on offer at 11-1.
Richard Lambert, an assistant to Fabre, commented that Talismanic "did just the same work as yesterday and everything is well with the horse. It’s less than a month since he ran in America and he’s ready."
Tiberian, unplaced in the recent Melbourne Cup, has pleased his trainer in Hong Kong and Couteil said: "Everything went fine with his work and he’s probably better than ahead of the Melbourne Cup. I don’t pay much attention to times, but he is in good form and finished off his work well in the straight."
Max Dynamite, who finished third in the Melbourne Cup, is also in the Vase field and represents the stable of Willie Mullins. His assistant, David Casey, said their charge was ready to run another big race.
If the rain relents — and that is a big if — there will be a 10-race programme at the Vaal on Thursday. Turffontein’s planned Tuesday night meeting was abandoned due to bad weather.
Joe Soma has his stable in good form — he won the Racing Association Handicap on Summer Cup day with Fortissima — and his three-year-old Double Mink is likely to be sent off favourite for the seventh race.
The son of Twice Over won his maiden at Turffontein in November in the hands of Anton Marcus and this is the colt’s first venture into handicap company. The race is confined to apprentices and Soma has booked Calvin Ngcobo for the ride.
He can expect challenges from Dennis Schwarz on the top-weight Just Cruised In as well as Lyle Hewitson, who will partner Oracle Of Delphi for champion trainer Sean Tarry.
Randjesfontein trainer Stuart Pettigrew’s smart three-year-old, Surcharge, justified favouritism in last weekend’s Secretariat Stakes at Turffontein. Another of his three-year-olds, Ekuseni, makes plenty of each-way appeal in the ninth race.
Although the colt was well beaten in his postmaiden race, he beat Double Mink by nearly four lengths when they met at Turffontein in September.
Tokyo Drift has kept his form well all year and must be included in all exotic bets, while Dorrie Sham’s runner, Battle Creek, also comes into the picture.
The booking of Piere Strydom for Aussie import Carmalita catches the eye in the third race and Stanley Ferreira’s filly is certain to be well supported to leave the maiden ranks.