Racing

HK draw throws up surprises

LONGINES Hong Kong International Races barrier draw

It was a case of haunting deja vu for one past winner and a welcome change for another as ABLE FRIEND (gate 14) and PENIAPHOBIA (barrier one) experienced contrasting fortunes at the barrier draw for the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.

John Moore-trained Able Friend drew the widest of 10 runners in the 2014 Hong Kong Mile in a race that stamped the giant chestnut as a superstar.

"I was hoping for a middle gate and that he could get some nice cover," Moore said after the draw. "So, I'm worried."

Moore was happier with the Mile draw for his second contender, with HELENE PARAGON drawn five, while the trainer also has JOYFUL TRINITY in the HK$23m (S$4.21m) feature, drawn 11.

Able Friend was not the only local galloper to draw outside, with BEAUTY ONLY and BEAUTY FLAME drawing wide in 13 and 12 respectively. Their handler Tony Cruz says each horse's racing pattern ensures that a perceived bad draw is not a major blow.

"I really don't mind," Cruz said. "Beauty Only will be out the back and Beauty Flame will be leading."

DIFFERENT OUTCOME

Cruz's 2015 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint victor Peniaphobia had to do it tough to score last year, so the trainer was clearly relieved to have come up with a different outcome this year.

"Well, I was hoping for a good draw and we got a good draw!" Cruz laughed. "Gate one for Paniaphobia is a perfect draw."

Other "locals" in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint also had good fortune at the draw with Hong Kong representatives occupying six of the seven inside gates. LUCKY BUBBLES drew five while NOT LISTENIN'TOME will jump from four.