Horse of the Year ‘pleased with himself’


America's 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin continued his preparation for Saturday's World Cup here on Tuesday with a gentle workout with connections saying that the hotly tipped runner was 'pleased with himself'.


All the four-year-old did was a gentle 35-minute walk before being visited by his principal owner Jess Jackson.


"He came out of his work great," said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen who has been overseeing Curlin during his month-long stay in Dubai.


"Curlin was full of energy and pleased with himself," added Blasi.


Curlin - who topped his campaign last year with victory in October's $5-million Classic, but also included a triumph in the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel in US horse racing's Triple Crown - was then visited by Jackson, who became the principal owner when he bought the controlling stake for a reported $3.5 million last year.


Curlin - who is named after Charles Curlin, a black slave from Kentucky who fought with the Union Army during the American Civil War - is unlikely to have another hard workout ahead of Saturday's showpiece, but will do some light exercise on Wednesday according to Blasi.


Japanese runner Vermilion, who is aiming to continue his unbeaten run with a fifth Group 1 victory in a row on Saturday, was cantered for one lap over the dirt track under regular exercise rider Shinji Furukawa.


Trainer Sei Ishizaka watched his horse's performance and professed himself to be pleased with the manner in which he had settled down in Dubai.


"I have not seen him for a week since he left Japan, but he seems to be in a good form and looks good," said Ishizaka.


"His jockey Yutaka Take will be riding him in a fast workout on Wednesday."


Furukawa said that Vermillion had indeed adapted to the different conditions in Dubai quicker than expected.


"The horse did not have any problems with the long flight. He is eating very well and seems to like the Dubai water," said Furukawa.


"The temperature is quite different from Japan though; it is cool in the morning, so this is okay.  Also, thanks to the very good air conditioning at the stable, the horse is not suffering at all from the daytime heat," added Furukawa.


Curlin is slated to take on 12 rivals with Dubai-based Godolphin's hopes resting on Jalil, who is number-one jockey Frankie Dettori's choice, and Brazilian-bred Happy Boy, who will be ridden by Australian Kerrin McEvoy.


The European challenge is a weak one, with two horses coming from France, Andre Fabre-trained Kocab and another Brazilian-bred runner in Gloria de Campeao, trained by Pascal Bary.


Former South African ace trainer Mike de Kock, now based in Dubai, will have two runners in the South African-bred Lucky Find and the Argentinian-bred Asiatic Boy. (AFP)