Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Ballydoyle bidding to Reel in more Hong Kong riches

Aidan O’Brien’s Highland Reel will aim to capture a second big prize in Hong Kong on Sunday when he appears in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup. Photo: Sportsfile
Aidan O’Brien’s Highland Reel will aim to capture a second big prize in Hong Kong on Sunday when he appears in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel will aim to capture a second big prize in Hong Kong on Sunday when he appears in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup.

The Ballydoyle representative won the Hong Kong Vase last December, to go with the Secretariat Stakes he landed at Arlington in August.

He also travelled to Australia for the Cox Plate, where he finished third to the superstar filly Winx, and he was last seen in action on Dubai World Cup night when fourth to Postponed.

Given Highland Reel raced more times abroad than on home turf last season, the travelling will certainly not be used as an excuse if the four-year-old fails to win.

"The horse travelled well. He's a pretty seasoned traveller now and he's settled in well. Everything's gone quite smoothly to the point," said O'Brien's assistant trainer Pat Keating.

"He's a versatile galloper and the trip's no problem. He did win the Secretariat (Stakes) at the distance (10 furlongs) and was good behind what we now know is a very smart filly (Winx) in the Cox Plate. That form has held up,"

Richard Fahey is targeting next month's Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh for his progressive sprinter Don't Touch.

The Yorkshire handler is looking towards the Group Two prize on May 21 with the smart four-year-old which is unbeaten in all five career starts.

After winning on his debut for the Co Louth native at Newcastle last May, the son of Dutch Art made steady progress through the handicap ranks before taking the Ayr Gold Cup on his final start.

"He is great but I think he is too high for handicaps now. He is in the Greenlands in Ireland and the Duke Of York, but he is more likely to run in the Greenlands," said Fahey.

"That could all change as a lot can happen. Last year didn't come as a surprise as I always thought he seemed a decent horse."

Fahey is favouring a return trip to France for Ribchester for a tilt at the French 2,000 Guineas.

While the Godolphin-owned three-year-old holds an entry in the English 2,000 Guineas, the Malton handler is leaning towards the French equivalent.

After capturing the Mill Reef Stakes on his final start last term, the colt was second past the post on his return at Maisons-Laffitte earlier this month before being demoted to fifth.

Irish Independent

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