Atzeni Thrilled with Farraaj Ahead of 2014 Hong Kong Cup

December 3rd, 2014

Making himself known to the Australian racing community when charging home to finish a close third in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1st, jockey Andrea Atzeni is confident talented Irish raider Farraaj is the horse to beat in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on December 14th.

Farraaj (inside) is primed for success in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup. Photo: Sarah Ebbett

Farraaj (inside) is primed for success in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup. Photo: Sarah Ebbett

Claiming six impressive race wins and a further five minor places over his 16 competitive appearances on course so far, Farraaj jumped from the wide and awkward barrier 14 in the 2014 Mackinnon Stakes, and while receiving a good run in transit and producing an exceptional final straight sprint, was unable to make up the ground on Happy Trails and He’s Your Man and finished a length off the pace.

Thrilled with the feel the Dubai Destination gelding has offered in work since arriving in Hong Kong, Atzeni believes the five-year-old would have won in Australia with a more favourable barrier draw and is confident of a successful maiden tilt at Sha Tin.

“He was probably a bit unlucky not to win the race at Flemington – he was drawn 14 of 14 and was kept three wide all the way,” Atzeni told PAA.

“The horse is very well, he’s quick out of the gate and if he gets a good draw, which is very important here, he’ll run a big race.

“With a better draw he might have won in Australia and the Cup is looking like a very open race this year.

“I know there might not be a lot of pace in the race but if we get a good draw and just get in behind the pace then I think we’ll be fine.”

Stamping his claims as a serious racing contender over his maiden campaign through 2011, Farraaj finished second in the Group 2 Tattersall Stakes (1408m) before placing a credible third in the Group 1 Juvenile Breeders’ Cup (1608m) in the United States most notably.

Continuing to impress via black type success in the 2012 and 2013 respectively, the gelding out of Pastorale placed fifth in the Group 3 Winter Derby (2011m) first-up this year and continued to build towards a strong win in the John Smith’s Cup (2092m) and four place finish amongst classy competition in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes (1799m) leading into his brief Australian tenure.

Leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2014 Hong Kong Cup odds, for which Farraaj can be taken at a generous quote of $7 for success; sharing the third line of betting with local Blazing Speed.

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