sha tinSha Tin (hkjc)Richard Gibson, trainer of Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase contender Doctor Dino, echoed what many people must be thinking when commenting about rival Dylan Thomas: “Though it is great to have an Arc winner in the field, it’s going to be a hell of a task to beat that guy.”

After the 37-year-old Chantilly-based trainer had seen the five-year-old continue his preparation with a strong canter on the all-weather, he commented: “Apart from Dylan Thomas, I have huge respect for Quijano, but I have got to say that we are delighted with Doctor Dino’s preparation.”

The German challenger Quijano has looked good in his work all week, and Gestut Fahrhof’s racing manager, Simon Stokes confirmed his wellbeing on Friday.

“He’s very well indeed, absolutely spot on in my view. Of course on what he has achieved Dylan Thomas is going to be hard to beat, but he’s had a long campaign, and if that and all the travelling begins to tell on him, then I hope we can take advantage. I think Quijano is ready to run a big race,” Stokes remarked.

Dylan Thomas was again out on the all weather track, where he put in another strong canter ahead of Sunday’s race, and his trainer Aidan O’Brien is happy enough with his condition. “He’s a very tough horse and has a great constitution,” the Irish and British champion said, “but we’re playing catch-up in terms of fitness after the trip to Japan.”

Macleya, one of two runners prepared by Andre Fabre for the Vase, is in “good condition” Alan Leonard, who bought the mare for owner Richard Thompson, said.

“Everyone is very happy with her and she’s holding her form well. The draw in gate 12 could have been kinder but we are hoping to be thereabouts,” he added.

Peter Garvey, owner of the other Irish runner in the Vase, Arch Rebel, was at the track to watch the horse breeze on the dirt. “He’d be a big outsider,” Garvey said.  “The going should be okay for him and we’ll just have to see how he goes. We obviously tried him over hurdles and although he showed some good form he prefers the flat and we were pleased with his effort in his last race at Longchamp (when a nose second in the Gr.2 Prix Conseil de Paris).”

The entourage greeting Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile challenger Al Qasi after he had breezed seven furlongs on the turf were headed by owner Ziad Galadari, the prominent Dubai-based businessman and racehorse owner. Jockey Ryan Moore was aboard in the work and said: “He made a good impression and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Creachadoir had a nice blow on the turf with Frankie Dettori aboard to leave trainer Saeed bin Suroor content with the preparation of Godolphin’s runner in the Mile.

“Frankie said he was very pleased with him and we are right on course for Sunday. He worked well at home in Dubai last weekend so everything has gone well,” he said.

On the topic of his stable companion, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup chance Ramonti, Bin Suroor added: “If he needs to lead he will but if he needs to he can sit behind the pace. He’s got better and better with each day here.”

Desert Lord, meanwhile, with his big race jockey Neil Callan in the irons, did his final prep for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint on Sunday.

Mark Birch, assistant to trainer Kevin Ryan, said: “The boss has had this race in mind for him this year and the horse got it all wrong a year ago. The horse missed the kick and then raced too keenly. He was always tugging along but he seems much more relaxed this time and I hope we can settle him in behind as there is plenty of pace around him.”

Third in the Sprint last year, Benbaun, winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye, went for a jog around the all-weather track under the watchful gaze of trainer Mark Wallace.

“He has only had two serious gallops since winning the Abbaye in early October I am sure he has come here in better shape than he did last year,” Wallace said.

“His only bad run this year came behind Miss Andretti in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot but he broke a blood vessel that day. He has always had niggling problems but we changed our vet this season and he seems to have helped.

“I’m also very happy with his number two draw, which is close to what he drew a year ago,” he concluded.

Marchand D’Or, France’s leading sprinter, worked on the grass after which his trainer Freddie Head said: “He was very fluent this morning and I’m happy with how things have gone.”

Offering feedback on Australian sensation Miss Andretti’s awkward gate 12 in the Sprint, jockey Craig Newitt commented: “If a bit of luck goes our way I don’t think the draw will be a problem. I reckon they will have to break the track record again to beat her.”

On the topic of track records, Down Town, who broke a Sha Tin mile standard dating back 24 years returns to the action after a break since October 21.

The dashing grey missed a week’s work in November prior to the CX International Mile Trial but trainer Dennis Yip said he is raring to go.

“He’s best when fresh and Douglas Whyte was very pleased with his work yesterday and his confidence is good enough for me. He has a nice draw and I hope he travels just behind the pace,” Yip said.

Defending Mile champion and twice placed in this race, The Duke will exit the sport after his fourth appearance in the Mile. “He’ll run a great race. He’s going to be a big price but the old boy will go out with his head held high. I’m not saying he’ll win in a very strong race, but it won’t be a surprise to me if manages a place,” a proud trainer Caspar Fownes predicted. Extract from Hong Kong Jockey Club