Tom Hogan is looking forward to saddling his multiple Group One winner in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin on March 15, a seven-furlong event granted international status for the first time this year.
The trainer has taken his stable star to Ireland’s only all-weather circuit on a couple of occasions to gallop as part of his preparations and the seven-year-old was given a surprise entry in this week’s Value Centre Race, a conditions race over a mile with fast-track qualifier status for All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday.
But Hogan has revealed that is merely a back-up plan should his trip to Hong Kong fall through.
Hogan said: “He’s in Newmarket as we speak, he worked this morning on the Al Bahathri and Wayne Lordan rode him.
“The plan as it stands is for him to catch a ferry to Amsterdam tonight and then fly to Hong Kong on Wednesday. These things are never 100 per cent certain, but if everything goes according to plan that is what will be happening.
“If for some reason there is a hitch with the travelling and he doesn’t travel to Hong Kong, he’ll turn up in Dundalk on Friday.
“He’s been to Dundalk a couple of times to work, just to keep him happy, and he seems in good form.”
Meanwhile Hillbilly Boy is to take in the Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton on Saturday ahead of a shot at the Betway Lincoln.
Trainer Martin Smith has opted to run the five-year old in the Listed seven-furlong contest this weekend as he targets the traditional curtain raiser for the Flat season at Doncaster on March 28. The son of Haafhd proved to be something of a revelation last year, winning three of his first six starts for the Newmarket handler following his purchase out of a Lingfield seller in January, before going on to finish 12th in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Smith said: “It is hard to tell you how he is as he as we have no other horses in the yard that can keep up with him. But he has been working well and looks great.
“We wanted to run him over seven furlongs before going over a mile just to give him a blow out as he will be quite fresh, so that is why we are heading to Wolverhampton on Saturday.
“We have no idea what we might be up against and if we finish third or fourth we will be happy as it would then be on to the Lincoln.”
While Hillbilly Boy has won over a mile, Smith feels that the Lincoln will present a completely different challenge for his progressive charge.
Smith said: “Although he has won over a mile at Lingfield that was in much lesser company so in some ways the trip is a bit of an unknown.
“We know he likes the track as he won there on the opening weekend of last season, and if the ground comes up soft that will be massively in our favour.”
With his regular jockey from last season Andrea Atzeni taking on a new role with Qatar Racing, Smith has moved quickly to secure the services of a well-established member of the weighing room.
Smith said: “With Andrea unavailable to ride Hillbilly Boy we have got Steve Drowne in to ride him for the year. The horse needs riding in a certain way and I get on very well with Steve. He is so experienced and he always gives good feedback, which is worth its weight in gold.”
Dark Emerald, one of the success stories of this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival with a pair of handicap wins, will bid for big-race glory in the $1 million Godolphin Mile at Meydan on March 28.