Mackinnon Stakes placegetter Farraaj impressed jockey Andrea Atzeni with a strong piece of trackwork at Sha Tin yesterday as he builds towards the 2014 Hong Kong Cup next Sunday.
Farraaj left Australia for Hong Kong on November 25 and the Dubai Destination gelding was given a few quiet days when he arrived at Sha Tina, but was given his first testing piece of work this morning with Atzeni in the saddle yesterday.
Atzeni has ridden in eight of his past nine race starts and the leading European hoop, who is currently in Hong Kong on a three month contract, was most impressed with the feel that he got from the five-year-old ahead of the Hong Kong Cup.
“He felt very good, he looks good for the time of year and he did a very nice bit of work,” Atzeni told Racing Post.
“He just stretched his legs a little bit.
“He hasn’t done a lot since his race in Australia and he needed a good bit and he might do something more again next week.
“He was having a nice blow at the end so I think that’s done him good.
“He travelled really well there; as soon as I turned in I picked him up all the way to the end and he just kept stretching out.
“He feels good, he moved well and he loves that quickish ground.”
Farraaj is yet to recorded a race win at the highest level of racing, but he was placed in the 2011 edition of the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the United States, took out the 2013 Group 3 Winter Derby (2011m) at Lingfield and won the John Smith’s Cup (2092m) at York on July 12 before he finished a close third behind Happy Trails and He’s Your Man in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
Atzeni believes that Farraaj has every chance to record a maiden win at Group 1 level in the Hong Kong Cup, but he feels that the barrier draw for the lucrative event will be key to the chances of the Roger Varian-trained gelding.
“On his day he’s very good,” Atzeni said.
“The horse is very well, he’s quick out of the gate and if he gets a good draw, which is very important here, he’ll run a big race.
“I know there might not be a lot of pace in the race, but if we get a good draw and just get in behind the pace then I think we’ll be fine.”
Farraaj is currently available at 2014 Hong Kong Cup odds of $7 and he is on the fourth line of betting with Ladbrokes Australia behind Designs On Rome ($4), Military Attack ($4.60) and Blazing Speed ($7).