World Racing Series champion jockey Frankie Dettori fears the Japanese challenge as he prepares to travel to Hong Kong for Sunday’s Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, the second leg of this year’s championship.
Dettori will partner Grandera in the £1.4m (€2.2m) event and though he feels his mount is the best Godolphin have ever saddled for the race, he is wary of the considerable challenge from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.
Speaking at the Newmarket home of his agent Ray Cochrane, Dettori, who flies to Hong Kong after riding in France on Thursday, said: ‘‘We have targeted Grandera towards this race and he is the best horse we have ever run in it.
‘‘Sha Tin is a straightforward track. The best horse should win and I hope it is mine.’’
However, Japan’s challenge is strong as the country bids to follow up its success in the Hong Kong International meeting in December.
They are represented by Agnes Digital, who landed the Hong Kong Cup, and Eishin Preston, successful in the Hong Kong Mile.
‘‘The big increase in money for the race has meant the competition has got that much stronger,’’ said Dettori. ‘‘I fear the Japanese most and I can’t deny that it is going to be tough.’’
Dettori’s hopes of success have received a boost from James Fanshawe, who trained Grandera as three-year-old before the colt’s transfer to the Godolphin team.
‘Throughout last season I kept saying that Grandera would be a stronger and better horse at four,’’ said the Newmarket trainer. ‘‘I expect him to make a big impact this year.’’
Fanshawe expects waiting tactics to be employed on Sunday, saying: ‘‘He was very much a hold-up horse with me and, unless tactics change under Godolphin, I would expect him to be kept for a late surge.’’