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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Soaking up the atmosphere as we mix it with the world's best

Robin Of Navan with Christina Dunlop
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In the second part of a daily diary leading up to the Hong Kong International races on Sunday, Christina Dunlop provides an update on husband Harry’s stable stalwart Robin Of Navan and her own adventures . . .

A busy morning! The local horses were scheduled for barrier trials mid-morning, meaning the internationals had to wait until 9.15am to go on to the tracks.

To fill in the time from feeding at 7am the majority of stable staff jumped on the shuttle bus and headed up to the main grandstand, where the Hong Kong Jockey Club had kindly provided an extensive buffet breakfast. If their hospitality carries on like this I’m definitely going to have to visit the hotel gym!

It was then back to the quarantine barns to saddle up. It was quite a sight to watch nearly all the international runners warming up in the large sand arena.

You had the battalions from Ireland led by Highland Reel, with Aidan O’Brien’s travelling head lad Pat Keating in command and giving directions from the ground; the French string headed by Breeders' Cup Turf winner Talismanic with his distinctive markings; and the British contingent were spread about mingling with the horses from Japan.

It was fascinating to watch the Japanese horses all at some stage doing lateral dressage movements including half-passes and figures of eight. Apparently this is very common practice in Japan for all racehorses.

Robin Of Navan takes a stroll on the turf

As for Robin Of Navan, he did another steady five-furlong canter on the dirt track. This time the giant TV screens were working and as he came past them he saw himself, tried to buck and started grunting away – all good signs he is feeling well.

Yesterday afternoon three of us braved it, bought an octopus travel ticket and took the tube into downtown. Somehow we managed to find our way to the bird market. The Chinese are renowned for having songbirds in their houses and here the noise was quite beautiful.

There were literally thousands of birds of all shapes, sizes and songs. Wayne Kavanagh from Richard Hannon's used to be an avid bird-keeper so could identify the different breeds.

Then it was on to the goldfish market – I've never seen so many unusual fish outside an aquarium. A street just full of fish tanks, some with bonsai tree gardens. It was quite stunning.

Today’s Hong Kong experience was completed by a trip to the temple market, otherwise known as the ladies market. We only touched the edge of it as time was pressing and we had to get back for evening stables, and the plan is to go back later in the week in the evening, when it really comes alive.

This afternoon the plan is to see the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, which is only a short walk from the hotel, visit the live market, and then in the evening go downtown and ride the cable car to the top of the hills to watch Hong Kong at night.

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




The giant TV screens were working and as he came past them he saw himself, tried to buck and started grunting away – all good signs he is feeling well

Key data

Robin Of Navan
E.W. Terms
Sky bet