Australia may not have a runner in the Group One Champions Mile but there’s still plenty of Aussie depth in the 1600-metre feature at Sha Tin on Monday.
Sydney mare Melito was expected to travel to Hong Kong for the third leg of the rich Asian Mile Challenge series until trainer Gerald Ryan aborted plans because of quarantine procedures.
Trainer John Size will be double handed with Sight Winner and Brave Kid while John Moore will have four representatives, Let Me Fight, Sunny King, Xtension and and last year’s winner, Able One.
Jockeys Darren Beadman, Zac Purton and Brett Prebble, who are in the top four riders in Hong Kong this season fly the Australian flag in the Champions Mile and will be joined by Damien Oliver and Dwayne Dunn.
Beadman won last year’s Champions Mile on the Moore-trained Able One but has switched allegiances this year to stablemate Xtension, runner-up in the Group One Hong Kong Derby last month.
Oliver will now partner Able One, who was withdrawn at the barriers in December before the Hong Kong Mile.
He was subsequently found to have suffered a stress fracture in his near hind leg.
Purton is hoping his mount Let Me Fight, who is coming off a last start fourth to Flying Blue in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin on April 3, can see out the trip to give him his first Champions Mile.
“He might struggle to get 1600 metres in this company but he’s got a chance,” Purton said.
“He’s a young horse and is continuing to improve.
“I’ll need to cuddle him for as long as possible from his good draw to ensure he sees the trip out.”
Purton was runner on the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Fellowship in last year’s Champion’s Trophy.
The Champions Mile has been billed as the strongest ever with three international runners attempting to break the hoodoo on overseas invaders.
Hong Kong trained horses have won every running of the Champions Mile since the race was elevated to international status in 2007.
The Luca Cumani-trained Presvis, winner of the Group One Dubai Duty Free in March spearheads the international challengers with the support act coming from French galloper Royal Bench, trained by Robert Collet while the Mike De Kock-trained Musir, winner of last year’s UAE Derby, represents South Africa.
De Kock is chasing his first Hong Kong feature winner since Eagle Mountain claimed the Group One Hong Kong Cup in 2008.
The son of Redoute’s Choice won last year’s UAE Derby but could manage only seventh to Victoire Pisa in the Group One Dubai World Cup (2000m) at Meydan in March.