04/22/2011 1:38PM

Sha Tin: Presvis shortens up in Champions Mile

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Dubai Racing Club
Presvis won 2 of 3 starts over the winter at Meydan, including the $5 million Dubai Duty Free.

Fresh off a determined victory in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, Presvis will try a new trick Monday at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. Typically raced between nine and 10 furlongs, Presvis is the highest-rated horse among 14 entered in the Champions Mile, Presvis’s first start at less than 1 1/8 miles in almost three years.

Presvis hasn’t raced a distance shorter than nine furlongs since July 2008, but his connections believe the 7-year-old’s powerful late kick will fit the lesser trip.

“His fractions say he can do it,” trainer Luca Cumani’s assistant, Charlie Henson, said to the Hong Kong Jockey Club this past week. Racing in the 10-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Cup the last two springs at Sha Tin, Presvis finished fifth and first, coming home rapidly both times. “He’s broken 22 seconds for the last 400 meters in his past two runs here at this time of the year,” Henson said, “and he’ll take some holding out if he can rattle off those sort of sectionals over the mile.”

Presvis is well known for two habits: his periodic petulance during training, and his slow starts and fast finishes. Quirks and all, Presvis appears to have attained his best form in two years. After going just 1 for 6 in 2010, Presvis won 2 of 3 starts over the winter in Dubai, including a three-quarter-length score in his third Duty Free try.

Among Presvis’s rivals are the winners of the last two Champions Miles, Able One, who captured the 2010 edition, and Sight Winner, who pulled a huge upset in 2009. Able One, an 8-year-old on Southern Hemisphere time, made his first start of 2011 on April 9, finishing eighth in a sprint prep for Monday’s race. Sight Winner has lost 21 straight starts since his Champions Mile score.

Royal Bench and Beauty Flash could prove the major threats to Presvis. Though he finished eighth after setting the early pace in the Duty Free, Beauty Flash was victorious in the last two Group 1 miles at Sha Tin, in January and December. He finished third in the 2010 Champions Mile. Royal Bench was second to Beauty Flash in the Dec. 12 Hong Kong Mile, and finished a closing fourth last month in the Duty Free.