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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Robin Of Navan enjoying the warm weather as team settles in at Sha Tin

Robin Of Navan and Christina Dunlop, pictured with trainer Harry Dunlop, are safely in Hong Kong
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In the first of a daily diary leading up to the Hong Kong International races on Sunday, Christina Dunlop gives the lowdown on her husband's stable stalwart Robin Of Navan 

Three weeks ago a letter arrived from the Hong Kong Jockey Club formally inviting Robin Of Navan to run at the prestigious Longines-sponsored international meeting and after discussion with his excited owners, Harry decided to aim him at the Hong Kong Cup, which is worth a staggering £2,400,000.

A mass of veterinary papers were completed and extensive health checks carried out in the days leading up to his departure in order to comply with Hong Kong's strict entry requirements.

This is my first trip to Hong Kong and so I knew the one person I had to consult was Robin Trevor-Jones, Ed Dunlop's travelling head lad, who has been here many times. He knew exactly what I needed to pack and also had some good travelling tips for the horse.

Robin Of Navan had never flown before and can be quite a noisy type around fellow horses, so I was a little apprehensive about how he might be after such a long trip, but I'm pleased to report my worries were unfounded. He stepped off the second lorry a little gingerly but once on the ground strode off neighing at everyone to let them know he was in town!

It feels a little odd to be wearing a T-shirt having left Lambourn when the temperature was -5C, but Robin Of Navan seems very happy with the warmer weather. His blood tests have come back normal and showed he's travelled over well, so it's all systems go.

There's a set time for the international horses to head out to work at Sha Tin, which is between 8.45am and 9.15am. Today everybody was either out on the dirt track or in the large sand arena within the quarantine area. Robin Of Navan warmed up in the sand arena, then headed to the dirt track for a five-and-a-half-furlong steady canter along with barn mate Danehill Kodiac, trained by Richard Hannon.

Afterwards we took the opportunity while it was quiet to give him a look at the paddock, and while some horses could be intimidated by this vast enclosure Robin took it all in his stride. Then it was back to the barns for a washdown and some breakfast.

I'm in Hong Kong with my colleague Colum Haynes and we've already had our first taste of racing at Sha Tin. The crowd was huge and the support during the races was vocal and enthusiastic if the favourite won but not so much if it lost.

There were some brilliantly named horses, including an exciting up-and-coming sprinter called Hot King Prawn, although it was slightly confusing to see he was by a stallion called Denman, especially having just watched the Ladbrokes Trophy.


Don't miss Hong Kong diary every day this week on racingpost.com


 

I was a little apprehensive about how he might be after such a long trip but I am pleased to report that my worries were unfounded
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