04/26/2007 11:00PM

Two Dubai winners square off


Two of Dubai World Cup Night's big winners, Admire Moon and Vengeance of Rain, meet head-on Sunday in Hong Kong in the $1.79 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin.

Their clash in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 turf event is a matchup of two world-class horses at their apparent best. Japanese invader Admire Moon, by the Forty Niner stallion End Sweep, is coming off a handy score in the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free, while local hero Vengeance of Rain, a New Zealand-bred son of Zabeel, returns home following his victory in the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic.

The QEII will be a step up in distance for Admire Moon and a step down for Vengeance of Rain, and in that the advantage belongs to Admire Moon. The Japanese-bred colt, trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda, prepped for his Duty Free victory with a win in the 1 3/8-mile Group 2 Kyoto Kinen. And before that Admire Moon was a nose second to the outstanding Pride over the QEII course and distance in the Hong Kong Cup on Dec. 10, so 10 furlongs appears to be his best distance.

Vengeance of Rain, who has won five Group 1 races at Sha Tin, was 1 3/4 lengths third behind Admire Moon in the Hong Kong Cup.

Still, there is little to choose between them. Vengeance of Rain, who is trained by David Ferraris, will feel right at home at Sha Tin, although his rider, Anthony Delpech, warned earlier this week that his mount may have peaked in Dubai. Admire Moon, who will have Yutaka Take in the irons, shipped directly from Dubai to Hong Kong, where Matsuda has expressed some concern about the high humidity.

Both of the favorites will have to overcome wide draws, especially Admire Moon, who drew post 10 in the 10-horse field. With just a one-furlong run to the first turn, Take will have to work out a trip. Vengeance of Rain drew post 8, so he is not much better off.

Dangerous will be the Mike de Kock-trained Oracle West, who was 1 1/4 lengths second to Vengeance of Rain in the Sheema Classic.

* Also on the Sha Tin card is the $1 million Champions Mile, the third leg of the Asian Mile Challenge. The in-form Linngari, a fast-closing second to Admire Moon in the Duty Free, faces last year's Yasuda Kinen winner and Dubai World Cup third, Bullish Luck, as well as Hong Kong Mile winner The Duke.

* The Grade 1, $2.14 million Spring Tenno Sho, or Emperor's Cup, at Kyoto on Sunday may not have a horse as good as last year's winner Deep Impact in its 16-runner field, but it does sport a Melbourne Cup winner in Delta Blues and a Japanese Derby winner in Meisho Samson. The selection in the two-mile turf race, however, is Eye Popper, a Sunday Silence 7-year-old who is coming off a victory in the 1 7/8-mile Grade 2 Hanshin Daishoten, in which Delta Blues was fourth.