By Ray Hickson
The $2m million question most punters are asking about Queen Elizabeth Stakes favourite Danon Premium is one that doesn’t concern connections of the Japanese star.
That question is how will the high class five-year-old cope with the expected soft to heavy track at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Teruhiko Saruhashi, Danon Premium’s trackwork rider and assistant trainer to Mitsumasa Nakauchida, seemed to brush aside any question of the entire’s capability in the wet following his gallop at Canterbury on Tuesday morning.
The form guide for Saturday’s $2m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) will show Danon Premium has yet to race on anything but a firm or good track but Saruhashi said he has proven himself in the trainer’s mind.
“It’s not a massive concern at this point for a soft track,’’ he said through a translator.
“He has run well and won in Japan on rain affected tracks. Of course if you were going to ask which we would prefer, yes we would like a drier or firmer track.
“The faster the track we think maybe the horse is better suited to but by no means are we at panic stations regarding more rain or the give in the track.’’
Danon Premium assumed top spot with TAB at $3.90 when the Queen Elizabeth Stakes field was declared with fellow Canterbury inmate Addeybb second elect at $4.40.
Saruhashi said the horse did everything expected of him in his Tuesday morning gallop which began with a lap and a half of trotting, a 400m canter then a 1000m gallop starting a 15s to the furlong.
“We asked for a bit more just to check his response in the straight,’’ he said.
Danon Premium running second in the Mile Championship at Kyoto on November 17
“I’m very happy with how he moved and very happy with the work this morning.
“We believe he is a top class galloper based on form lines from Japan. We are very happy and proud to be here and have him run here in Australia.
“We strongly believe and are very confident he is a top liner in Japan.’’
Japan provided the runner-up to Winx in last year's Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Kluger chasing the great mare home and it's safe to say Danon Premium brings with him far superior credentials.
Champion jockey James McDonald takes the ride on Danon Premium on Saturday and, as connections alluded, has some outstanding form from the toughest racing centre in the world to Sydney.
He has won six of his 10 starts, has comfortably beaten Lys Gracieux at 2000m and chased home Almond Eye in the Tenno Sho (2000m) back on October 27.
His last start was a brave second, after sitting wide, to Indy Champ in the Group 1 Mile Championship on November 17.
McDonald had a spin on Danon Premium last week and it left an impression.
“He’s a horse that obviously oozes a lot of class and has a lot of presence about him,’’ McDonald said.
“He feels enormous and the way he goes through his paces, he’s very balanced and very push button in the way he executes his gallops.”