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Sunday, December 8, 2002


WELBURN SHOOTS TO THE FRONT OF WELSH NATIONAL LIST


A big day’s racing yesterday, with two horses putting themselves in to the spotlight for future races. Gunner Welburn called all the shots at Chepstow and was cut to 8-1 by William Hill for the Coral Welsh National, but this was soon snapped up and he now shows at 6-1. He is also quoted at 20-1 for the Martell Grand National.

Cenkos took good advantage of his rivals errors to romp home in the Mitsubishi Tingle Creek and he is now 6-1 second favourite (from 20-1) behind the luckless Moscow Flyer at 7-2 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

See More Business also proved all his assets are still good in a small field chase at Chepstow and was clipped to 20-1 for the King George.


CORAL WELSH NATIONAL:
6-1 Gunner Welburn (from 20-1), 8-1 Chives, The Bunny Boiler, 10-1 Bounce Back, 12-1 Harbour Pilot, Supreme Glory, 14-1 Carbury Cross, Gunther McBride, Rith Dubh, 16-1 Frantic Tan, Frosty Canyon, Its Himself, Stormez, Take Control, 20-1 BAR (20-1 Wonder Weasel)

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE:
7-2 Moscow Flyer, 6-1 Cenkos (from 12-1), 7-1 Flagship Uberalles, 10-1 Edredon Bleu (from 8-1), Seebald, 12-1 Native Upmanship, Tiutchev, 20-1 Armaturk, Dark'n Sharp, Latalomne, 25-1 Faldalko, Fadoudal du Cochet, Knife Edge, Royal Auclair, Truckers Tavern, 33-1 Fondmort, 40-1 Turgeonev (Others Upon Request)

PERTEMPS KING GEORGE VI GOLD CUP:
6-4 Best Mate, 5-1 Bacchanal, Florida Pearl, 12-1 Douze Douze, Native Upmanship, 14-1 First Gold, Marlborough, 20-1 Commanche Court, Edredon Bleu, Flagship Uberalles, Hussard Collonges, See More Business (from 25-1), Shooting Light, Valley Henry, 25-1 BAR

TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP:
9-4 Best Mate, 10-1 Commanche Court, 16-1 First Gold, Hussard Collonges, Rince Ri, 20-1 Bacchanal, Florida Pearl, Gingembre, Harbour Pilot, Marlborough, 25-1 Alexander Banquet, Cyfor Malta, Royal Auclair, Valley Henry, 33-1 Ad Hoc, Bounce Back, Behrajan, Foxchapel King, Heros Collonges, Lord Noelie, See More Business, Shooting Light. (Others
Upon Request)

MARTELL GRAND NATIONAL:
14-1 Ad Hoc, 16-1 Cyfor Malta, Gingembre, 20-1 Bindaree, Davids Lad, Gunner Welburn, Kingsmark, More Than a Stroll, 25-1 Bounce Back, Carbury Cross, Grey Abbey, Gunther McBride, Rince Ri, Rith Dubh, Shotgun Willy, Supreme Glory. (Others Upon Request)

SMURFIT CHAMPION HURDLE:
7-1 Rooster Booster, 8-1 Davenport Milenium, Intersky Falcon, 10-1 Ned Kelly, 12-1 Hors La Loi III, Rhinestone Cowboy, 14-1 Like A Butterfly, Puntal, 16-1 Galileo, 20-1 Marble Arch, Scottish Memories, 25-1 In Contrast, 33-1 Adamant Approach, Copeland, Eternal Spring, Holy Orders, Landing Light, Polar Red, Westender. (Others Upon Request)

JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE:
12-1 Don Fernando, 20-1 Saintsaire, Tramanto, 25-1 Fast Mix, 33-1 BAR

BONUSPRINT STAYERS HURDLE:
7-4 Baracouda, 6-1 Bannow Bay, Limestone Lad, 7-1 Galileo, 10-1 Classified, 14-1 Ilnamar, Le Sauvignon, 16-1 Brother Joe, 20-1 Liss A Paoraigh, 25-1 BAR


THREE GODOLPHIN HORSES NOW IN HONG KONG


Noverre and Ekraar, two of the Godolphin hopes for the Hong Kong International meeting on December 15th, arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday, December 7th reports the Godolphin Internet site.
The duo have joined stable companion Grandera who shipped to Sha Tin after finishing third to Northerly in the Group One Carlton Draught Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 26.

Grandera is on course for the US$2.3million Group One Hong Kong Cup over 10 furlongs while Noverre and Ekraar are due to represent Godolphin in the Group One Hong Kong Mile and the Group One 12-furlong Hong Kong Vase respectively.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor commented: "Grandera worked well on Tuesday and will work again next week. He has been doing everything very well since he arrived in Hong Kong from Australia and he will be ready for the big race.

"The good thing about Grandera is that he is a very tough horse. He has looked very good after each race which has given us the confidence to run him in the next big race.
"That is the reason we have sent him all over the world - Dubai, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, England and Hong Kong.
"Noverre is training in good style. He has not had the luck in his races so far this year. We tried him over a mile and a quarter but I think a mile is his distance and the racetrack in Hong Kong will suit him well.
"Ekraar has been working well in Dubai. We gave him plenty time in England this season and then we ran him in Italy. He ran okay in third but the problem was the soft ground which was against him. The race will have sharpened him up.
"These are the last races of the season for us. We are looking forward to Grandera running in the final contest of the World Series which he leads."


Hong Kong Cup (G1) effort looms on Drysdale's agenda


Neil Drysdale has never been the sort to remind people about his training accomplishments. A quick glance at Drysdale's record in North America's premier races during the past decade shows that he doesn't need to.

Drysdale won the 1992 Belmont Stakes (G2) and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) with A.P. Indy, who was voted North America's Horse of the Year for that season. In 2000, Drysdale won the Kentucky Derby (G1) with Fusaichi Pegasus.

The same year as Fusaichi Pegasus' triumph, Drysdale was inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. It is the premier honour a thoroughbred horseman can receive within North America's boundaries.

This coming Sunday, 15 December, Drysdale will attempt to add another jewel to his rich resume, when he sends forth the American representative, Sarafan, in the HK$18-million Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Without question, the Hong Kong Cup, the culminating event in the World Championship Racing Series, is a most difficult event to win. But handicappers from numerous participating countries believe the five-year-old son of Lear Fan has a serious shot at victory.

In his most recent start, on 24 November, Sarafan finished a close second to Falbrav in the Japan Cup (G1) at Nakayama Race Course. Falbrav's margin of victory was only a nose, and he had to withstand a claim of foul by Drysdale before it became official.

Sarafan has exited that race prime and sharp, and Drysdale sees him as ready for a top effort at Sha Tin. Earlier this year, Sarafan equalled the course record for 1 1/8 miles when winning the Eddie Read Handicap (G1) at Del Mar. The 2000-metre Hong Kong Cup would seem to well suit him.

But, then, Drysdale always seems to put his horses in the proper spots. All told, he has conditioned five North American champions, a record of success that no thoroughbred conditioner could achieve by chance.
Originally from Haslemere, Surrey, England, Drysdale is a learned man, having studied at the University of Barcelona in Spain. Reticent to talk to the press, he can be charming in private and a splendid dinner companion, witty, well spoken and well read.

During his early adulthood, Drysdale briefly taught English, but the lure of a career working with horses soon took hold. After journeying to the United States, Drysdale worked with show competitors, then took a job with Tartan Farms, one of the most respected breeding and racing outfits in Florida.

Drysdale subsequently became an assistant at the racetrack for such trainers as Roger Laurin and fellow Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham. He credits the late Whittingham "for teaching me the value of patience and planning," Drysdale said.

After securing his own training license, Drysdale conditioned horses privately for Corbin Robertson's Saron Stable. In 1980, Drysdale guided the Saron colour bearer Bold n' Determined to an eight-win season. One of those triumphs came over her fellow distaffer, Genuine Risk, who that year had become only the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby.

Since opening a public stable in 1983, Drysdale has registered five Breeders' Cup wins. In addition to A.P. Indy, they have come with Princess Rooney in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) in 1984, with Prized in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) in 1989, with Hollywood Wildcat in the 'Distaff in 1993 and with War Chant in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) in 2000.
Drysdale will turn 55 on 11 December, four days before the Hong Kong Cup. One would have to believe that victory in Hong Kong's premier race would be a superb birthday present.




HONG KONG SALE



Thirty-seven colts and geldings, obtained by the Hong Kong Jockey Club through private transactions and at major venues on three continents, were guided through public gallops today at Sha Tin Racecourse.

All are scheduled to be auctioned this coming Friday, 13 December, at the 2002 edition of the Hong Kong International Sale of two-year-olds (and one three-year-old) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

For the fourth consecutive year, auctioning responsibilities will be handled by the Keeneland Association, Inc., of Lexington, Kentucky. Keeneland is the world's leading thoroughbred sales company, handling thousands of transactions through its auctions each year. Keeneland's head auctioneer, Ryan Mahan, will have the gavel.

Last year, 38 horses were auctioned at the Hong Kong International Sale for gross receipts totalling HK$56,350,000. "That was an all-time record for us," said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's executive director of racing.

"I'm not sure we can surpass that figure this year," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "But we do have a stronger catalogue in 2002. In my mind, it's the strongest we've ever offered for any of our Hong Kong sales."
Dan O'Donnell, a bloodstock agent based in Hong Kong for the past 14 years, agrees. "In pedigrees, this year's sale bears the highest standard we've ever had," O'Donnell said. "The horses also have suitable conformations for racing here. There will be many opportunities Friday for a buyer to obtain a credible racehorse for a reasonable price."
The catalogue includes seven sons of Danehill, who was a European champion during his racing days, and is now one of the most popular sires in the world. At last year's Hong Kong International Sale, a colt by Danehill out of the stakes-producing Darshaan mare, Caraniya, fetched a record price of HK$4.5 million.

Further included in this year's catalogue are sons of Alhaarth, Desert King, Diesis, Gentlemen, Grand Lodge, Royal Applause, With Approval and Woodman, all of whom were champions during their own racing careers.

Horses selected for this year's Hong Kong International Sale have gone through a rigorous examination process, "which includes three complete vettings, drug testing and three sets of X-rays," said Engelbrecht-Bresges. "You won't find a sale anywhere with higher qualifying standards than ours."
"Our function with this sale is not to make a profit," said Hong Kong Jockey Club Chairman Ronald Arculli. "Rather, it's to provide a service for Hong Kong racing participants. There's also an educational purpose involved - - to familiarize new owners with what the correct process is when seeking to buy a racehorse."
As has also been the case in prior years, a bonus of HK$1-million will be awarded to the owner of the 2002 Hong Kong International Sale graduate who achieves the highest cumulative purse earnings at the close of the 2003-2004 racing season in Hong Kong.

A pair of 2001 sale graduates, Wyndam Easy and The Duke, are currently in a head-and-head battle for the bonus that will be awarded at the culmination of this year's 11 December racing programme at Happy Valley.

Interestingly, neither horse sold for an especially high price at the 2001 sale. Wyndam Easy brought a closing bid of HK$600,000. The Duke brought a closing bid of HK$1.6-million.

To be eligible for this year's bonus, a horse must be trained full-time in Hong Kong for the period between December, 2002, and June, 2004 - - "which will provide candidates with an extra six months, thereby eliminating the need to push a young horse too far, too fast," Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

Most of the horses consigned to this year's Hong Kong International Sale were gathered from yearling vendues such as Keeneland July, Saratoga August, Keeneland September, Tattersalls October, Goffs Orby, Houghton, Deauville, New Zealand Bloodstock , Inglis Easter and Magic Millions.
A black-tie dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club will follow the sale


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