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Distance no concern, Glorious Dragon ready for Champions & Chater Cup test

May 20, 2021, 10:28:38 AM

Francis Lui has no doubts about Glorious Dragon's potential to answer endurance questions as he runs in Sunday's HK$12 million G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) at Sha Tin.

“I think he can handle the gap, no problem – he's in good shape, and I'm confident in him going into Sunday,” Lui said of the six-year-old Irish bred.

The Teofilo gelding is a two-time winner over 2000m in Hong Kong and returns for his fifth G1 attempt after finishing sixth in last month's G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m), behind an army of Japanese raiders as the second locally-trained runner over the line after Exultant.

“I choose this race for him because I think he'll like the distance – that's a huge plus,” Lui said.

The steely grey jagged a career-high when winning the Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) five months ago, beating Exultant by one and three quarter lengths.

“I've been pleased with him so far, with his results and even with the team with him – I'm trusting in my horse,” the handler said.

The 122-rater was the product of an off-season stable move in his first full season for Lui, but prior to import in 2018, he was a one-time winner in Great Britain at Redcar Racecourse as a two-year-old over 1599m.

“He's an easy horse to ride, he's very calm, and we just need to tune up his condition with each run,” Lui said.

Leading local ace Vincent Ho takes the wheel this Sunday, and the pair will start from gate three.

Originally scheduled to run a two-pronged attack on Sunday's 12-furlong test, Lui would now be without Golden Sixty after opting out of a Triple Crown run with the talented son of Medaglia d'Oro.

“I tried to race him, but after his last run, he had a short break with some light trotting in between, and he became a little new inside himself.”

“So I spoke to the owner and Vincent (Ho), and we were concerned about him being a little fresh over this distance, so we agreed not to run him,” Lui said of the often fiery yet outstanding galloper.

Butterfield is also entered, having won the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) earlier this month, which served as the biggest springboard into this weekend's G1.

“He's going well, I'm pleased with him, and he can manage the distance easily, particularly because he won over it last time,” trainer Danny Shum said.

Shum's talented import is a three-time Hong Kong champion, including twice this season, and prior to export, he won a pair of G1s in his native Brazil, including the Derby Paulista (2400m) at Cidade Jardim Racecourse by more than five lengths.

“After Golden Sixty withdrawn, it's not an overly strong field, but there are still a few decent horses from Tony Cruz and Francis Lui,” Shum said, referring to Exultant and Glorious Dragon.

Jockey Matthew Poon assumes control of the chestnut, and the pair will leave from gate two.

The Pakistan Star Plate (1200m) for Griffins kicks off Sunday's (23 May) 11-race fixture at Sha Tin at 12.30pm.