HE showed his potential with a bold seventh in the Melbourne Cup, but Bathurst’s Mick and Stacey Whittaker are hoping that Tiberian’s promise can translate into an even better result this Sunday.
That’s when the French stayer they are part-owners of will line up in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2,400 metres), a race worth approximately $3 million Australian.
To be held at the Sha Tin Racecourse, the Vase is one of four major races to be contested on Hong Kong International Race Day.
Tiberian, who has won six of his 18 career starts under trainer Alain Couetil, will face a quality 12-horse field which includes Highland Reel, the Aidan O’Brien runner which won the 2015 edition of the Vase and was runner-up last year.
Still, Mick Whittaker thinks his six-year-old can produce a strong showing as he has his first start since making his Melbourne Cup debut.
“We would like to think so, obviously this is a little bit smaller field [than the Cup],” he said.
“Again there’s enormous prize money, but from our point of view on things as very, very small stake holders of a horse, we don’t get a say with what happens with the horse, we just follow it.
“I would imagine that horses like Highland Reel and Talismanic are going to be right up there.
“We seem to have firmed from $31 a week ago to $7 on Thursday, so obviously there is some money coming in for him.”
Tiberian has not previously raced at Sha Tin, a circuit which is relatively flat and fast by European standards.
However, his work since arriving in Hong Kong has been impressive and jockey Olivier Peslier has found good success in the Vase, winning in 1995 (Partipral) and 1999 (Borgia) before going back-to-back with Doctor Dino in 2007 and 2008.
“His track work since he’s been over there seems to have been very, very good,” Whittaker said.
“If horses like Kaiseki and Max Dynamite and Eagle Way are anything to go on in comparison, even Highland Reel, he’s got good numbers.
“In his track work the other day Highland Reel over the last 400 ran 24.6 and I think Tiberian ran the last 200 in 11.2, so they’re good numbers.
“We’d probably like to think four weeks in between runs is probably good for Tiberian, normally they stretch him out a little bit more.
“But we’re quietly confident. Talismanic, the other French horse they have in it, Tiberian’s beaten him twice this year and Talismanic beat Highland Reel in the Breeder’s Cup in American, which he wasn’t expected to do.
“So that he’s beaten Talismanic a couple of times this year, that gives us hope. But really it all comes down to the day, the barriers, he’s not brilliantly drawn in nine, he doesn’t like to be boxed in.”
Barrier nine, along with four, has actually produced the highest amount of Vase winners with four horses having found success from each of those.
“The Melbourne Cup … he probably had the potential to run the top five in that race, he just got caught up, got squeezed, and that was the end of it,” Whittaker said.
“But going from the Melbourne Cup over 3,200 metres down to 2,400, we know he can run it out.”
The Hong Kong Vase will jump at 5pm AEDST on Sunday.