Ken Nicol: This year’s Sun Met hero Whisky Baron begins his overseas campaign on Friday when he lines up in the Shadwell Joel Stakes (Grade 2) over the Newmarket straight 1600m at 4.35pm South African time with regular pilot Greg Cheyne aboard.
Speaking from the UK, trainer Brett Crawford was positive about the five-year-old’s progress.
‘’His prep has gone very nicely, but we hope there’s no further rain as he would prefer firmer ground. He’s very well but as he hasn’t raced since the Met in January he may need it slightly,” was how he summed up his stable star’s chances.
Looking at the weather forecast, some light rain is expected on race day but nothing prior to that so the ground shouldn’t be bottomless.
Final acceptances for the race are on Wednesday and Whisky Baron’s proud record of being undefeated since gelding is going to come under severe threat.
Available at 12-1 in the ante-post market, he seems likely to come up against a couple of classy youngsters in the form of Andrew Balding’s recent Grade 3 winner Beat The Bank (5-2) and Aiden O’Brien’s Sir John Lavery (4-1), who has a Listed victory to his credit. Of the older entrants, Mustashry (4-1) is trained by Sir Michael Stoute and also has a recent Grade 3 win.
Crawford confirmed that the projected main mission for Whisky Baron was either the Longines Hong Kong Cup 2000 or the Longines Hong Kong Mile, both of which are Grade 1 races and take place on December 12 for a purse of about US$3 million apiece.
‘’Obviously a lot will depend on what happens on Friday. He may have another run in the UK, but that’s not certain as the flat season closes at the end of October,” said Crawford.
What is certain is that a large number of South African racing people will be glued to their screens at the end of the working day on Friday to see how our latest equine hero to try his luck in the UK fares.