Popular grey Linton will be the only Australian representative at the Hong Kong International Raceday at Sha Tin on December 8 and connections have taken an unusual step to give the seven-year-old some company before he runs in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m).
Quarantine restrictions mean that Linton must be stabled away from locally-trained horses and, with no other Australian-based gallopers making the trip to Hong Kong, the Stradbroke Handicap winner has been placed in a stable by himself.
Trainer John Sadler told Sky Racing HQ this morning that he was worried Linton would not handle being by being by himself in the stable so Malua Racing’s Carolyn Mason, who is looking after Linton in Hong Kong, placed a mirror in the gelding’s stall to give him the impression that he has some equine company.
“Probably the biggest concern I have got is that there is no other Australian horse that has gone over there so he is actually stabled on his own,” Sadler said.
“It would have been nice to have a mate so Carolyn organised to have a mirror put in and he is eating away there looking at himself day and night.
“She said he seems much happier since we put the mirror in.”
Linton will take on equine superstars from all over the world in the Hong Kong Mile; with last year’s runner-up Glorious Days, Irish Group 1 winner Gordon Lord Byron, star American galloper King Kreesa, British 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern and French sprinter Moonlight Cloud, the horse who went the closest to beating Black Caviar, included in the final field.
Sadler is realistic about Linton’s chances in the Hong Kong Mile but is not concerned that the seven-year-old will be having his first race start since finishing an unlucky eighth behind Solzhenitsyn in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 12.
“It hasn’t been strange for him to race first-up over a mile,” Sadler said.
“When he had his first start for us in the spring, he ran in the mile race in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam and finished fourth behind Happy Trails, Green Moon and Rekindled Interest.
“He arguably could have possibly won that race and I am pretty pleased with his condition.”
Sadler revealed earlier this month that Linton would head to Dubai after running in the Hong Kong Mile and admits he is disappointed to lose the Group 1 winner but said it did not make sense to train the son of Galileo for an extended period overseas.
“His owner would like to see him run in Dubai and he was quiet happy for me to train him over there but it doesn’t really make a lot of sense because it is just too long a period,” Sadler said.
“It doesn’t make sense for him to come back to Australia after he runs in Hong Kong and unfortunately Sunday week will be the last time he runs for us.
“I really think that there is a couple of good seasons left in him and he certainly didn’t have a hard time when he was with Lloyd Williams and we haven’t overtaxed him.
“I still think there is plenty left in him.”