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La Cucaracha to miss Hong Kong; Nunthorpe winner ruled out of Sha Tin through injury but stays in training.

Byline: RODNEY MASTERS

LA CUCARACHA will miss the Hong Kong Sprint next month after picking up an injury, but is to continue her racing career next season.

The four-year-old Piccolo filly gave ownerbreeder Guy Reed his first Group 1 success in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August, one of four wins during the season.

After York, trainer Barry Hills said he felt she would be suited by conditions at Sha Tin, but Charles Hills, the trainer's assistant, said yesterday: "Unfortunately, La Cucaracha has an injury and will not be able to run in the Hong Kong Sprint, but she'll remain in training next season, and we're all looking forward to that."

Although Sha Tin is off the itinerary for Hills, Lambourn's senior trainer will be at Hereford on Thursday, when he will give Tony McCoy the leg-up on one of the stable's rare runners over jumps. The champion jockey has been booked for P rime Contender in the Wynnstay Group Juvenile Maiden Hurdle.

McCoy schooled the gelding at Faringdon Place last week. Hills jnr said: "Prime Contender jumps very well and Tony was pleased with him. At the moment, he's our only jumper."

Hills, who once again this season sent out more than 100 Flat winners, has had few jumpers under his wing in recent years, although he did win the 1992 Stayers' Hurdle with the Robert Sangster-owned Nomadic Way, and he campaigned his 1994 St Leger winner Moonax in novice hurdles in 1996-97.

As reported in the Racing Postlast week, Arc de Triomphe runner-up Westerner will bid to give French trainer Elie Lellouche his third victory in the Hong Kong Vase on the same card as the Sprint.

Lellouche said yesterday: "I'm not too wor-ried about the ground in Hong Kong as he acted on firm going when second in the Ascot Gold Cup in 2004. He appears to go on all surfaces."

The David Elsworth-trained Norse Dancer could figure among Westerner's rivals. The fiveyear-old, who has yet to win a Group 1 after 21 attempts, was well beaten in the Arc but had previously finished a good second to Azamour in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Newbury.

"He's a top horse, the best I've had never to win a Group 1," said Elsworth.

"He's in very good form and I don't see any reason why he can't break through for that first big win in Hong Kong, particularly as the conditions at Sha Tin will suit - he loves fast ground."

Brian Meehan has decided to bypass Hong Kong with David Junior, the Champion Stakes winner. The colt will be trained for the Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba in the spring.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Nov 15, 2005
Words:450
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