Gold-fun out to score for HK
Hong Kong bids to strike in Europe when Gold-Fun tackles the Prix Maurice de Gheest on Sunday in the first marquee race at this year's Deauville Festival.
Gold-Fun (second right), right in the firing line at Royal Ascot.
At Sha Tin the seven-year-old is a standing dish in the major races over six furlongs but he has the versatility to compete at slightly shorter and longer trips when required. Furthermore he is a seasoned international traveller.
Now he gets the chance to become the first Hong Kong-trained winner on Gallic soil.
And his handler Richard Gibson can be forgiven for sounding bullish about the chances of the Christophe Soumillon-ridden gelding, as this does not look a vintage renewal of the Group One over six and a half furlongs, remembering that the likes of Moonlight Cloud and 2015 champion sprinter Muhaarar adorn its recent roll of honour.
Gold-Fun's second to Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot is among the best recent form offered up by any of the 16 runners.
Gibson said: "I was thrilled with him in the Jubilee, it was a very creditable effort, but a bit frustrating that it's the fourth time he's finished second in a Group One.
"After Ascot everything was targeted at the Maurice de Gheest. He was let down and then went into training with Robert Cowell in Newmarket.
"He's been mixing it with a yard that's chock-full of high-class sprinters so I think he's been in the right place.
"Let's hope all goes to plan and that we are in the thick of it at the finish.
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"I think the track should suit him and Christophe knows him. He will enjoy it trying to put one on the board for Hong Kong on his own patch."
Britain has no fewer than five contenders. David O'Meara's Suedois looks the pick based on a series of big runs in top company without managing to put his head in front.
O'Meara said: "He's in great form. It was a massive run to place (second) in the July Cup behind a horse (Limato) who could be exceptional.
"He's had four runs for us now and has finished second in the Cammidge, second in the Duke of York and then beaten only three-quarters of a length into fifth at Royal Ascot.
"He hasn't done anything wrong. He can compete in these races and could well win one."
Mick Channon fields Mobsta, winner of a Group race in Ireland and perfectly happy on quick as well as slow ground.
The trainer said: "He's won two from three this year and is definitely getting better. He beat Suedois at Doncaster and I hope he can confirm it, although that and his Curragh win happened in the soft."
The Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection, Richard Fahey's Donjuan Triumphant and Hugo Palmer's Gifted Master complete the British presence in the race, while a resurgent Gordon Lord Byron attempts to complete a hat-trick as Ireland's sole representative.
The eight-year-old's latest victory in the Minstrel Stakes came as no surprise to trainer Tom Hogan, who feels his stable stalwart still has what it takes to mix it at the highest level.
Hogan said: "He's going there in good order and we're very happy with him, so fingers crossed everything goes well.
"He's been working well since the last day, so there's no reason why he won't run at least as well again, if not a bit better."
Richard Kingscote takes the mount on Gordon Lord Byron for the first time since finishing third in last year's renewal.
"Richard rode him last year when he was only beaten a length by Muhaarar. I'm not sure if there's a Muhaarar in the race on Sunday," the trainer added.
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