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Sha Tin: Newmarket trainer James Eustace is set to saddle his first runner in Hong Kong when War Artist runs in the HK$12million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (G1).
Eustace is no stranger to Sha Tin, however, by virtue of the fact that he is married to Gay, sister of the former Hong Kong-based trainer David Oughton, and has visited his brother-in-law by marriage on several occasions.
“David was the first and only Hong Kong trainer to send a sprinter to win in the UK when Cape of Good Hope won at Royal Ascot at York, and I’d dearly love to be the first British trainer to bring a sprinter from the UK and win the Hong Kong Sprint over there,” said Eustace.
The Hong Kong Sprint will be especially competitive this year, but Eustace believes his horse is fully deserving of his place in the line up.
War Artist worked over 1200m at Kempton under lights on the 25 November and turned in “as good a piece of work as I have ever seen him do” according to the trainer.
“He’s very laid back at home, and I wanted to take him to a racecourse to get the adrenalin going. It’s too long between the Abbaye and Hong Kong otherwise,” he explained. War Artist’s career has not been without its complications since he came to the UK from South Africa. In 2008 he did everything right without winning, running with credit when second at Royal Ascot and again when third to Marchand D’Or in the July Cup.
“He then had niggling problems behind, and as he’d been on the go for a while in South Africa and over here, I wanted to give him some time off,” said the trainer.
That decision proved a wise one in terms of his soundness, but then in February War Artist suffered a bout of colic that required him to be opened up and have his gut untwisted. Off the track for more than a year the horse did not get the fast ground he required until winning the Group sprints in Germany and France before his eye-catching third in the Prix de l’Abbaye. And while this year’s Sprint appears his toughest assignment yet, Eustace is unfazed.
“The way things have worked out this year, his season started late and he’s a fresh horse. He’s as well as I’ve ever had him and he’s the best I have trained. Although he’s from South Africa, War Artist is an Australian bred, and I believe Aussie-bred horses have won every running of this race to date. ”
Published: 2009-12-04 02:25:25
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