Sha Tin (nbc)

Trackwork for the international challengers for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races 2007 commenced in earnest at Sha Tin on Monday morning and Dylan Thomas, the highest-rated active horse in the world, looked in powerful form as he put in a strong canter on the all-weather under his regular world rider, Pat Lillis.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien’s travelling head lad, Pat Keating, later confirmed the wellbeing of Europe’s Horse of the Year ahead of his swansong in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase this Sunday, 9 December.

“He’s thriving in this good weather and he seems in good order. We just kept him ticking over in Japan as well as we could, and I’ve been very happy with him since he’s been here,” Keating said.

“This track will suit him much better than Monmouth Park where he was never travelling on the very soft ground. He’s had a long season, true enough, but he seems to be holding his form - he’s a tough horse. You only have to look at his record for proof of that.”

Ballydoyle’s other international runner, Excellent Art, runner-up last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, also looked well as he put in a regulation canter on the all weather under his work rider Keith Dalton.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien will be at Sha Tin on Wednesday morning to oversee his runners’ final preparation.

Several other major chances for the Turf World Championships were on show on Monday morning.

The likely second favourite for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint, Miss Andretti, last week voted Australia’s Horse of the Year, pleased Lee Freedman with a light jog on the sand under her regular partner Scott Magee.

“I’m very happy with what I saw this morning. She’s relaxed, her weight is good, and she’s raring to go,” enthused Hall of Fame trainer Freedman.

“Tomorrow we will look to give her a decent gallop on the course proper and that should bring her to her peak. The new facilities here are great and my foreman Scotty tells me she’s settled in really well.”

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