Elusive State emerged as a smart dirt track talent last season and Tony Millard’s charge is one of the bill-toppers for a competitive card at Sha Tin on Sunday, 27 October.
All nine races will be contested on the all-weather (dirt) surface Elusive State so relishes and Millard reports the gelding to be in good heart for his second start this term in the feature, the Class 2 Kwangtung Handicap Cup (1650m).
The six-year-old stepped out with a fine second to Big Time Baby over an insufficient 1200m on 8 September. Elusive State has clocked the sixth fastest time in the past decade over Sunday’s track and trip.
“I think 1600 metres-plus would be his proper distance,” Millard said. “It was a good run last time, it’s just that it’s been quite a long time between races but he’s had two barrier trials and the trials were nice – they were just easy trials to prep him properly.”
Joao Moreira was in the plate first up, remained on board for both trials and is booked again for the weekend test. The bay’s most recent trial 10 days ago saw the son of All American run on strongly from mid-pack to lead home 11 others at his leisure.
With higher quality dirt races sparse in Hong Kong, there was some speculation around the track last season that Elusive State might compete at the Dubai World Cup Carnival or perhaps contest September’s Korea Cup. So far, Millard has kept the galloper on home soil and the South African was coy about future targets.
“His opportunities are very limited but we’ll see how he runs on the weekend – we certainly have a very nice plan for him,” he said.
“If anything, last season we didn’t over-race him, we tried to be pretty precise with him and pinpointed his races, so he had a very good season and then we gave him a good break. He needed it because the season before he ran 18 times.”
The field also includes Glorious Artist (129lb), the track record holder at 1800m, who returns off a solid fourth in the KOR Group 1 Korea Cup (1800m). Champion jockey Zac Purton will be in the plate.
The five-year-old joins his Frankie Lor-trained stablemates Morethanlucky (130lb) and Turin Redstar (130lb).