Tuesday 6 December 2016

Watching Brief...

Published 23/04/2016 | 02:30

Jockey Ryan Moore Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jockey Ryan Moore Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

It isn't always the case that Aidan O'Brien's elite team hit the ground running in the spring, but they certainly have this year.

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Those holding Air Force Blue dockets for next week's 2,000 Guineas will be reassured by that, but it is also worth factoring into calculations when assessing Highland Reel's prospects in Hong Kong tomorrow.

Last year's Secretariat victor contests the QEII at Sha Tin, where he won the Vase in December. That Grade One was over 12 furlongs, and this one is over 10.

The mount of Ryan Moore was last seen finishing fourth to Postponed in the Dubai Sheema Classic over a mile and a half. On Highland Reel's first run for over three months that day, he was far from disgraced in fourth, having raced aggressively in the lead.

In the circumstances, he emerged with plenty of credit, tiring in the straight to be beaten four lengths by Postponed.

That was a far better race than he contests tomorrow, and it's fair to reason that he will be slightly sharper now. Moreover, given the way that his racing style has evolved, the shorter trip might even suit him better.

Clearly, doing as much globe-trotting as he does is a slight concern, but he coped well with that last year, when he ran in six countries across four continents. At odds of up to 6/1, then, Highland Reel is value to complete his Grade One hat-trick.

Irish Independent

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