x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Godolphin can end on high

The Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has tipped Alexandros to upset the odds and win the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile.

HONG KONG // The Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has tipped Alexandros to upset the odds and win the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile. The chestnut colt is the final runner of a record-breaking 12 months around the globe for the Dubai operation and aims to end the year on a high at Sha Tin. With Good Ba Ba, rated the best miler in the world in 2008, going for an unprecedented hat-trick of Hong Kong Mile crowns, victory will have to be earned the hard way, but bin Suroor was heartened by Alexandros's demeanour in the Far East.

"Alexandros did his main work last Saturday before he left Dubai and he took the journey to Hong Kong very well," he said. "He cantered for a mile and a quarter on the turf track on Friday morning, has had a very relaxed time of it since and he looks in very good condition at the moment. He is happy, fresh and healthy and his preparation has gone to plan. "It's going to be a tough contest to win but I think that he has the class to run a big race."

Alexandros has been drawn well in stall seven, which will allow him - as he prefers - to drop in behind the leaders. Bin Suroor described Alexandros as "a bit unlucky" to lose when he went down by a head in Newbury's Lockinge Stakes to Virtual in May after jockey Frankie Dettori lost his whip in the final stages, and the handler is optimistic that he can reproduce that speed. "He looks to be in great form and I am hopeful that he can run up to the level that he showed at Newbury and Nad al Sheba earlier this year," he said.

The big-race rider Dettori added: "It's a tough ask against Good Ba Ba but we've got a good draw and we've always done well at Hong Kong, so we'll give it a real go." Godolphin were also due to have runners in the Hong Kong Cup and Hong Kong Vase before fitness concerns prompted the late withdrawals of Balius and Campanologist. There was concern over the participation of Vision D'Etat in the cup when the horse was confined to the quarantine area yesterday with a lame right hind leg.

His trainer Eric Libaud reported it was a skin infection and "nothing serious" but vets will check on the Prince Of Wales' Stakes winner at Sha Tin today before giving him the all-clear to race. Eagle Mountain, running in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, is going for a second consecutive win in the feature event but will be up against it in only his second race after 11months away from the track with injury.

sports@thenational.ae Races from 8:25am on Dubai Racing Channel, with feature races from 10am