Pure Sensation finds right turn a learning curve in breeze for Hong Kong Sprint

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December 6th, 2016

The Christophe Clement-trained Pure Sensation ratcheted up a gear over Sha Tin’s turf course Tuesday morning, polishing off an approximately three-furlong breeze to set him up for Sunday’s Hong Kong Sprint (G1).

Under exercise rider Rudy Nerbonne, the consistent gray clocked :37.0 for the 600 meters while getting a taste for the right-handed turn before striding out down the lane. Pure Sensation’s opening split was :13.2, and he then turned in fractions of :11.9 and 11.9.

“He is in good form, and he is adapting to going right-handed,” Nerbonne told Hong Kong Jockey Club publicity. “He changed his leads with no problem, but he has to do that at racing pace on Sunday. His run last time in the Breeders' Cup (third in the Turf Sprint [G1]) over 1300 meters was a good effort – he was only beaten a length against the best in America. The 1200 meters on Sunday will suit him and he deserves to be here.”

For a more pessimistic appraisal of Pure Sensation’s rightward turn, see the South China Morning Post’s Michael Cox:

That’s one of the reasons I’m a little unsure about Pure Sensation’s win chances in the Hong Kong Sprint.

The other major news from Hong Kong Tuesday involved Vase (G1) contender One Foot in Heaven, whose bloodwork is unfortunately off since his arrival from France.

Kim Kelly, the HKJC’s Chief Stipendiary Steward, issued the following statement:

Dr. Peter Curl, Executive Manager, Veterinary Regulation has advised the Stewards that One Foot In Heaven, trained by Mr. Alain de Royer-Dupre and entered to run in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) on Sunday, 11 December 2016, has been found upon routine post-arrival health screening to show evidence of a blood abnormality after arriving in Hong Kong on Saturday, 3 December 2016.

Dr. Curl has informed that this condition is most likely related to long distance travel. The horse's condition will continue to be monitored and a further release will be issued at the appropriate time.

I’m very disappointed to learn this, since One Foot in Heaven struck me as the next-best in this race after defending champion Highland Reel. The son of Fastnet Rock and the world-class Pride, who won the 2006 Hong Kong Cup (G1), rested in the quarantine area in hopes of bouncing back.

Tuesday’s notes offered a glimmer of hope from assistant Serge Renee.

“He didn't travel over too well and so he is staying in there for today, but everything is fine,” Renee said. “The vet here has said he is doing better now and he should be out tomorrow.”

Fingers crossed that this is only a momentary blip for One Foot in Heaven, who was on an upward curve after finishing sixth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and capturing the October 16 Prix du Conseil de Paris (G2). 

Photo courtesy Hong Kong Jockey Club