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Hong Kong’s Dubai Sheema Classic duo ready for Equinox task

March 22, 2023 at 2:57:51 AM

Senor Toba and Russian Emperor appeared in fine condition at Meydan this morning (Tuesday, 21 March) as the pair strode powerfully down the turf straight as one, much to the delight of the grey’s trainer Caspar Fownes, who watched on from the grandstand.

Senor Toba and Russian Emperor appeared in fine condition at Meydan this morning (Tuesday, 21 March) as the pair strode powerfully down the turf straight as one, much to the delight of the grey’s trainer Caspar Fownes, who watched on from the grandstand.

Douglas Whyte trains Russian Emperor and was in the plate today, while Senor Toba was partnered by Alberto Sanna – who reunites with the former this weekend – as preparations continued for their G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) test this Saturday night (25 March).

Equinox – a two-time Group 1 winner with a limited but already towering record – is shaping as the horse to beat in the US$6 million race (approx. HK$47.04 million). The four-year-old – trained by Tetsuya Kimura in Japan – sent cameras into a frenzy as he strutted his stuff in front of the media scrum in the early hours of this morning.

“This is his first overseas trip and he’s still getting used to his new surroundings, although I think he’s getting better day by day and I am happy with how he moved this morning,” Kimura told the Dubai Racing Club.

The Kitasan Black colt is owned by Silk Racing Co Ltd. He boasts four wins from six starts, including victories in the 2022 G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) and 2022 G1 Arima Kinen (2500m) at his most recent outings.

Setting off down the back straight at Meydan, Senor Toba and Russian Emperor motored through their hit out, matching strides to pass the winning post in unison as the sun began rise.

“He’s (Senor Toba) been a bit disappointing his two runs overseas this prep but I think he’s a little bit better now. We’ve been treating him for some internal issues and I give him a chance to finish between fourth and sixth in a race like this.

“It’s a very strong race and obviously you’d like to have seen him in better form leading into this race, but at the same time horses can turn things around pretty quick,” Fownes said.
Senor Toba has raced twice in the Middle East, finishing seventh in the QAT G1 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2400m) in Qatar and eighth in the G2 Dubai City Of Gold (2410m) at Meydan earlier this month.

Senor Toba will get the services of superstar jockey Frankie Dettori this weekend.

“I just wanted to see who was available and obviously when I saw Frankie was there I jumped at him. He’s a superstar, one of the greatest jockeys of all time and his record is incredible,” Fownes said.

Russian Emperor has also raced twice. He won the QAT G1 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2400m) before closing for an eye-catching fifth in the G1 Jebel Hatta (1800m) at the start of March.

Gearing up to saddle his first overseas runners, Pierre Ng was aboard Glorious Dragon as the grey meandered around the dirt course with stablemate Duke Wai this morning.

“Glorious Dragon was superb following travel and he is enjoying the track,” Ng said.

Duke Wai tackles the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) for Ng, while Glorious Dragon takes aim at a stacked G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) field which features the likes of Alfareeq, Danon Beluga, Do Deuce, Lord North, Nations Pride, Serifos and more.

“Duke Wai needs about two to three days to get used to the environment, other than that I’m satisfied with his travel. His trackwork seems fine,” Ng said.

Jerry Chau rides Duke Wai this weekend, while Neil Callan hops aboard Glorious Dragon.

Sight Success came out under his work rider and wasn’t asked to do too much. John Size’s speedster forms a two-pronged assault for Hong Kong in the Al Quoz Sprint and will be ridden by Ryan Moore this weekend.

Hong Kong has won two editions of the Al Quoz Sprint, firstly in 2010 with Joy And Fun before Amber Sky prevailed in 2014.

Both Duke Wai and Glorious Dragon will gallop on the turf at around 5am (GST) tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 22 March).

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