News

King Dancer a live Dubai Sheema Classic outsider for HK, says trainer Woods

Dubai, UAE, March 21, 2011 - For a territory that does not specialise in races over 2400m, Hong Kong’s recent record in the Dubai Sheema Classic compares more than favourably with racing’s international superpowers and Sha Tin-based trainer Sean Woods believes King Dancer can augment that statistic in the US$5 million showpiece on Dubai World Cup night.

The last three envoys from Hong Kong for the middle-distance championship event have resulted with a win and two second-placed finishes with Vengeance Of Rain landing the spoils in 2007 and Viva Pataca and Helene Vitality the runners-ups in 2008 and 2002.

As a Group Two winner in Hong Kong, King Dancer, admittedly, has not travelled to Dubai with quite the same profile of the aforementioned, but Sean Woods is confident his under-the-radar contender can pull off something of a surprise now that his chestnut will be reunited with jockey Ryan Moore in the wake of Snow Fairy’s withdrawal owing to lameness.

King Dancer, with Moore on board and blinkers applied for the first time, ran the best race of his career in the Hong Kong Gold Cup (HK Group One, 2000m) last month when second to California Memory.

That form has a strong look to it given that the latter is likely to develop into a genuine international Group One contender and that Irian, runner-up to Snow Fairy by a neck in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup over the same course and distance in December, finished a length behind King Dancer.

“Ryan travelled halfway round the world to ride our horse that day in the hope that he would turn into a solid [Dubai] Sheema Classic chance because initially it was felt that Snow Fairy would be running in the [Dubai] World Cup,” says Woods.

“It’s disappointing for her connections that she won’t be able to run but it works out well for us that Ryan can ride King Dancer because he obviously gets on well with him and he knows the track at Meydan very well.”

Woods said his five-year-old chestnut, considered an outsider for the win by many experts, galloped “sensationally” at Sha Tin last week before flying to the Emirates.

“It was much better work than anything he had put down before the Gold Cup so that I hope that bodes well for him but I am just hoping that the race is truly run in Meydan. I feel he is better over 2400m than 2000m, but it’s important that they don’t dawdle along like they did in Hong Kong in the Vase in December leaving him with too much to do.”

The entire Hong Kong season stages just three races over 2400m in a season to prompt Woods’ search overseas for a more suitable options in terms of distance - and there is also the horse’s future after retirement to consider.

“The money on offer is obviously second to none, but it’s not like it’s bad in Hong Kong either and we bypassed an easier Group race at home for him on the weekend. The main reason we are going to Dubai is because he is still an entire horse and we are trying to establish a good profile for him to take to stud.

“It looks a pretty open race, especially now that Snow Fairy has come out, and all is going well and we feel he has a good chance of being in the finish.”