Exultant to skip Dubai race
Champion is now being set up for QEII Cup
Hong Kong superstar Exultant will not be in the line-up for the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic to be run over 2,410m at Meydan on March 28.
That, despite finishing a gallant second at the weekend behind stablemate Time Warp in the 2,000m Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Exultant's non-participation was confirmed by his trainer Tony Cruz yesterday.
"He pulled up very good after Sunday's race but the owner had a bad experience in the past when he travelled a horse overseas, with Absolute Champion, so he's definitely not going.
"I tried to convince him but he doesn't want to go. Well, Exultant is his horse, so we respect his decision," Cruz said.
The three-time G1 winner boasts some of the best 10 and 12-furlong form in the world, having mixed it with, and beaten, horses such as Japan's star mare Lys Gracieux and France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe hero Waldgeist.
"That being the case, Exultant will go straight to the QEII Cup at Sha Tin instead but that's two months away. It's the same as last year with the long wait," Cruz added.
Meanwhile, at home Cruz will be represented by Private Secretary in Sunday's Classic Cup to be run over 1,800m at Sha Tin.
An exciting English import, Private Secretary is on a retrieval mission, having flopped second-up when he managed to finish only 10th in a 1,600m race at Sha Tin in early January.
That, after he impressed many with a debut win at Happy Valley on Boxing Day.
"He's running with a hood this time - that will calm him down a bit - and Chad Schofield rides him," Cruz said.
"He was a bit sore in his suspensorys (ligaments) after his last run, but he's over it, that's nothing to worry about, he's sound."
Private Secretary won three of his six starts pre-import, including the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood, and Cruz is hoping that on Sunday, the talented galloper - who is a son of Kingman - will highlight his Derby potential against the best of his peers.
"He's ready for this race," he said. "In time, the 2,000 metres will be his pet distance, so he's my only hope for the Derby this year. I think he'll run a big race this weekend." - HKJC.