By Alastair Donald
Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirage Dancer will bid to continue Khalid Abdullah’s golden end to 2018 by carrying his owner’s famous green, pink and white silks to victory in the HK$20m LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on 9th December.
Enable wore those famous colours for her second Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe win at Longchamp for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori on the first Sunday in October.
Enable and the Stoute-trained Expert Eye tasted Breeders’ Cup glory under Abdullah’s Juddmonte banner in the Turf and the Mile at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in November and Mirage Dancer bids to continue this spectacular run of success at Sha Tin on what will be his first international venture.
Andre Fabre’s Flintshire scored for Abdullah in the 2014 Vase and Mirage Dancer, an impeccably-bred son of the mighty Frankel, has given all the signs of being the sort of improving four-year-old that Stoute has excelled with over the years.
“This will be Mirage Dancer’s first start in a Group 1 race, but his form stands up well enough and we are looking forward to the challenge of running him in Hong Kong,” Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said.
Mirage Dancer’s form bears out that assertion. A close second in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket reads well given that the winner Best Solution went on to land the Caulfield Cup.
A commanding success at Goodwood was gained at the expense of fellow Vase contestant Red Verdon, while Mirage Dancer ran right up to form under a penalty on testing ground at Newbury on his latest start when beaten narrowly by the very smart three-year-old Young Rascal.
“The horse is progressive, he is well, and we have been pleased with his recent gallops. It is true to say we have had the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races in mind since the summer,” Grimthorpe said.
“He is a fresh horse, having not run for a while. We thought about running him in the Canadian International, but aimed him for Champions Day at Ascot instead, and then the ground went against him. He should get fast ground in Hong Kong, which is what he wants.
Grimthorpe added: “Subject to availability, Ryan Moore will ride Mirage Dancer in the Vase. Unfortunately, his trainer Sir Michael will not be in Hong Kong as he cannot travel having recently undergone knee surgery. Happily the horse is moving better than he is!”
A win for Mirage Dancer in the Vase would be a second success in the race for Stoute, following Daliapour’s win in 2000, and would surely help speed the recovery of one of Newmarket’s most celebrated trainers.