O'Brien to employ waiting tactics

Aidan O’Brien is planning to play a waiting game with Powerscourt in Sunday’s Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin.

Aidan O’Brien is planning to play a waiting game with Powerscourt in Sunday’s Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin.

The four-year-old is the 7-1 second favourite for the 10-furlong race despite disappointing when only 10th in the Japan Cup last month.

Powerscourt had an unfavourably wide draw in that race and after a slow start, Jamie Spencer had to chase him along to make up ground.

The Sadler’s Wells colt also missed the break on his previous run when third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Spencer again had to use up some of his reserves to regain a position in the race.

O’Brien is hoping Spencer will be able to bide his time in Sunday’s race before launching a late finish.

“I’d imagine we would probably wait with him, take our time a little bit more, hopefully produce him late because he has the speed to get there,” said the Ballydoyle handler.

“When he gets there he can be a little bit idle – he is inclined to wait on other horses.”

Although Powerscourt won the Tattersalls Gold Cup back in May, he has not enjoyed the best of luck this season, ‘winning’ the Arlington Million in August only to lose the race in the stewards’ room.

However, O’Brien’s hopes are high for the weekend and he believes the race could be run to suit.

“He is a horse with loads of class, loads of speed and he is probably at his best in a fast-run mile and a quarter,” he added.

O’Brien will also be represented by the enigmatic Antonius Pius in the Hong Kong Mile.

The three-year-old should probably have won the French 2000 Guineas earlier this year but he threw away his chances by ducking right and colliding with the rails in the final furlong.

Antonius Pius looked like he might win the Breeders’ Cup Mile on his last start but he drifted left in the final furlong to go down by half a length to Singletary.

O’Brien felt that run was a real learning experience and he is hoping the Danzig colt can defy his critics and land Sunday’s Group One prize.

“We learned a lot about him in America. We probably learned more about him there than we have all year,” he explained.

“If we have him right on the day, it is very possible that the best is yet to be come.”

O’Brien’s Sha Tin team is completed by Brian Boru who will tackle the 12-furlong Hong Kong Vase.

The four-year-old was last seen in action when finishing third to Sulamani in the Canadian International at Woodbine in October.

Last year’s St Leger winner stayed on really well to finish three and a half lengths adrift of the winner and O’Brien is hoping for a strong pace on Sunday to make use of Brian Boru’s stamina.

“Brian Boru has plenty of speed but he wants horses to go a good solid pace in front of him – that’s when he is at his best, when he can find himself and come home really well,” O’Brien added.

“The straight should suit. It takes him time to get into gear and if he gets a clear run he should run a big race.”

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