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Godolphin sprinters take on Hong Kong’s best

J A McGrath

The international element to Sunday’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin is supplied by two Godolphin stables based on opposite sides of the world.

Charlie Appleby sends highly regarded Blue Point (Shamardal) from Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks, Newmarket (UK), while trainer Yoshitada Takahashi flew Fine Needle (Admire Moon) down from his base in Japan.

The Godolphin duo take on seven rivals, which include the best Hong Kong has to offer in a specialist category in which it has been strong and competitive internationally.

Local champion John Size will be represented by five runners, which include the talented Mr Stunning (Exceed And Excel), who has the ability to be brilliant on his day.

Appleby has long regarded Blue Point as potentially the best sprinter he has trained.

So, it came as a huge disappointment when the colt was ruled out of the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night when a trickle of blood was found in one of his nostrils on arrival at the start.

“It was something very minor, and he was straight back into training the next day. He was at peak fitness for that race, and I regarded him as my best chance on the night, so I am optimistic about his chances in Hong Kong,” Appleby explained.

“William (Buick) will have plenty of options, drawn six,” he added.

Fine Needle comes to Hong Kong off the back of a G1 victory in the six-furlong Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo on Sunday, 25 March, in which he was ridden by Yuga Kawada, who is unavailable to take the mount in Hong Kong this weekend. Godolphin have called up Australian jockey Tommy Berry, who rode Fine Needle in his work at Sha Tin this week.

Harry Sweeney, President of Godolphin in Japan, said: “Tommy liked him a lot and was surprised by his turn-of-foot.

That said, the international ratings suggest Fine Needle needs to improve 5lb to be in the final shake up.

“Fine Needle travelled very well to Hong Kong and has settled in really well,” he added.

In Europe this weekend, the most interesting race in prospect is Sunday’s G1 Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp, in which Godolphin’s Cloth Of Stars takes on Cracksman and five other rivals, including the filly Rhododendron.

Cloth Of Stars, runner-up to Enable in last year’s G1 Arc, was third in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan on his most recent outing.

He should appreciate the return to more familiar surroundings.