The calm confidence of trainer John O’Shea and the equally cool presence of the multiple Group One winner Sea Siren at Sha Tin on race eve has convinced international betting agencies to install the mare as favourite for Sunday’s Hong Kong Sprint.
“Everything has gone perfectly, I’m well, she’s well,” O’Shea said.
“Everything is just perfect.”
As much as horses bred in Australia have performed with distinction in the shortest of the four international races on a program billed as the Turf World Championships, it is 11 years since an Australian-trained runner saluted at the meeting.
Among those who have tried, and failed, to repeat Falvelon’s sprint victories of 2000 and 2001, have been horses of the calibre of the international star Miss Andretti.
But O’Shea isn’t bothering with any history or any doubt.
“All I know is what I see – and that seems pretty good,” he said.
His opinion is reflected in international markets which have Sea Siren favourite at a best price of $ 4.
Second pick is last year’s winner Lucky Nine at $ 5.50 with another local, Time After Time next at $ 6.
Victory for Sea Siren in the International Sprint would give her a haul of four Group One races this year and would give O’Shea immense satisfaction.
“You come to these meetings with a lot of hope,” he said.
“We think we have the right horse, but so do a lot of others.
“You can only go on what you see and what you know, and she looks right to me.”
The picture was equally bright for Australia’s second runner on the program, Alcopop who runs in the Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
While his trainer Jake Stephens didn’t have quite the same calmness as O’Shea as he watched Alcopop breeze around the all-weather track on Saturday, he is confident he’s sending a fit and well horse to the races.
“Whether that is enough to be up there with these very good horses remains to be seen,” Stephens said.
“But he’s in really good order, better than when he was favourite for the Melbourne Cup a few years ago.”
Alcopop firmed from $ 13 to $ 8.50 following the scratching of the early favourite Cirrus Des Aigles.
On official ratings the South Australian is the third best horse in the race, but the statistics don’t take into account such variables as the home ground advantage held by a strong local contingent headed by last year’s winner California Memory who is the new favourite at $ 5 ahead of French Derby winner Saonois and another French runner, Giofra.