Werther's owner decides against Turf bid at Meydan
The Dubai World Cup meeting has lost one of its potential stars following a surprising change of heart by connections of Horse of the Year Werther.
Last weekend the five-year-old won the very valuable Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin and it seemed a trip to Meydan for next month's Dubai Turf was the next target.
However, it emerged on Tuesday that Werther, who was around 8-1 for the race with British bookmakers, would not be going to Dubai.
The South China Morning Post reported that trainer John Moore was informed of the change of plans via a text from owner Johnson Chen.
The text listed a variety of reasons for the decision, stating: "In consideration of the climate change, travelling pains and the fact that Werther has just recovered from injury."
'There didn't seem any change of heart'
Moore was dismayed at the news, not just for himself, but also for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, whose officials the SCMP reported had suffered a 'loss of face'.
Moore said: "I'm disappointed because I thought the horse had a great chance of winning the race but I'm disappointed too because of the trouble that the Jockey Club people took to make sure we could go.
"The club made contact with Dubai to ensure we had an invitation and it was issued ten hours before Werther ran in the Gold Cup on Sunday and, at that stage, if Werther won the Gold Cup, Johnson had given me a green light to go. There didn't seem any change of heart after the race, after what was a very good win, so you can imagine how surprised I was to get this text."
Hong Kong's presence at this year's meeting will be reduced further as sprinters Lucky Bubbles and Peniaphobia will also not be making the trip, with domestic campaigns preferred.