Emerging local star California Memory confirmed the strength of the Hong Kong challenge for Sunday’s $HK14 million Group One QEII Cup at Sha Tin with a piece of work as sparkling as his recent form.
California Memory, a pony-sized grey, bowled around the all-weather track on Friday, pleasing trainer Tony Cruz and jockey Matthew Chadwick.
“His work this morning was just what he needed after a couple of trials since his last run,” Cruz said.
“He did also have a little abscess but that’s of no concern at all now.”
California Memory lived up to his potential with a stunning last-start victory in the Hong Kong Gold Cup over Sunday’s distance of 2000m in February, a race in which he produced a final 400m in 21.63 seconds to come from last for a clear win.
“He’s only a small horse but it doesn’t stop him galloping,” Cruz said.
“He’s fine-boned, has small fetlock joints, I think my ankles are thicker than his canons.
“But he can run.”
Hong Kong Derby winner and likely favourite Ambitious Dragon breezed 400m in 23.6s and looked in good shape.
“His work was very good, he opened up very well and I’m really pleased with him,” trainer Tony Millard said.
Another local hope, the John Moore-trained Irian, worked 1200m in 1:23.5, his last 400m in 24.9s to again please race day rider Brett Prebble who offered a succinct “feels good” to inquiries about his mount.
The internationals had the finishing touches put on their preparations with the English entry Wigmore Hall showing more tractability than at any other time this week, at last co-operating with his rider in striding work on the all-weather.
The South African-trained pair River Jetez and Gitano Hernando looked well in leisurely workouts, but the three visitors appear to have their work cut out to get the better of the locals.