Godolphin’s leading man William Buick will take the reins aboard the only Group 1 winner in Sunday’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) as he looks to replicate Pakistan Star-like heroics aboard Tower Of London in the HK$22 million dash.
“It was a great day – it was a lucky ride for me [aboard Pakistan Star], I picked him up last minute and it was a fantastic day,” Buick said.
Buick won the 2018 Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin aboard the mercurial galloper and, this weekend he’ll return to the big stage in Hong Kong to reunite with Japan’s Tower Of London for the first time in just over two years.
“He feels like he’s matured – when I rode him in Tokyo he came off the back of a lay off and the race didn’t actually pan out for him that day but he ran home strong and he really showed some good form after that run,” Buick said.
Buick rode the speedster on 24 November, 2018 – one day before Almond Eye won her first Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m) – and the pair finished a close-up second in the Listed Capital Stakes (1600m) at Tokyo.
“But I felt that the difference between when I last rode him and now is that he’s a horse who has really matured and he looks like a proper sprinter now,” Buick said.
The talented five-year-old has been sparingly raced with only 17 starts to his name but has a trio of Group 2s among his haul, as well as the 2019 Group 1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama.
“He looks very well, he looks like he’s travelled over very well – the connections are happy with him and what I felt this morning, I suppose it was a routine bit of work but he had a nice kick up the stretch and I was really happy with him – he moved well and showed his wellbeing,” Buick said.
Buick paired the Godolphin charge for a hit-out of the grass Thursday (10 December) at Sha Tin, galloping 800m on the turf in 50.3s (27.7, 22.6).
“I think he’s fit and ready to go – I wouldn’t have any doubts about that, Thursday was his final serious piece and I think the whole idea was to put him spot on for Sunday,” the 32-year-old said.
While aboard the only Group 1 winner in the race, Buick remains wary of the competition and he will have to break from gate 12 among the field of 14, which includes Hot King Prawn, Classique Legend, Computer Patch and Danon Smash.
“I think he has a good chance – it’s a tough race, you have the other Japanese runner Danon Smash and obviously the local horse Hot King Prawn who is obviously going to be a hard horse to beat on home ground and Classique Legend as well, it’s a top-class sprint as you would expect,” Buick said.
Buick’s other Group 1 mounts include Playa Del Puente in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m), as well as fellow Japanese runner Danon Premium in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
“I was very pleased to pick up the ride on Danon Premium – I think he’s got some great form and his last run in the Tenno Sho Autumn when he was fourth behind Almond Eye I think that’s probably as good form as any in the race,” Buick said.
That form was franked 28 days later as Almond Eye raced clear with her second Japan Cup triumph and, in doing so, got the better of the brilliant Contrail and Daring Tact, as well as last year’s Hong Kong Vase winner Glory Vase.
“Obviously Magical is a very consistent high-class filly – she never ever runs a bad race so she is probably the overall pick,” Buick said.
Sunday’s HK$28 million contest will be the son of Deep Impact’s second venture abroad following a game third to Addeybb in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick Racecourse in April this year.
And that horse, Addeybb, managed to get the better of Magical in the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes (1993m) at Ascot in October as O’Brien’s super mare could manage only third, while Skalleti, who also lines up on Sunday, finished between the pair.
“I’m very happy with Danon Premium and if he runs to his best I’m sure he’ll run a great race. Obviously Furore is coming into the race off a strong win – so again he has the local advantage being based here.”
“It’s not going to be an easy race but I’m very happy with the horse I’ve picked up,” Buick said.