Seasoned traveller Mufhasa is thriving in Hong Kong and ready to do New Zealand proud in Sunday's Champions' Mile at Sha Tin.
Trainer Bruce Wallace said he couldn't fault the Pentire 8-year-old's condition or attitude and his work since landing in Hong Kong had been first class.
"The horse just looks tremendous and since he arrived he's lifted again. He's eaten everything since he got here and we've seen a big change in him - we just couldn't have him any better.
"He's in the right race and we've got a lot of confidence in him - he's won 20 races and 10 group ones already so that's something to back up our opinion."
Mufhasa arrived in Hong Kong from Australia on April 22 in the care of regular strapper Amy Doran and New Zealand's reigning Horse of the Year had quickly settled in to his new surroundings.
"Both Amy and I were of the opinion in Sydney that he was looking for a change and he's loving it here," Wallace said.
"The club have been marvellous and he's not isolated. They arranged to have [multiple group one winner] Beauty Flash with him and they're both enjoying life."
Mufhasa galloped last Sunday at Sha Tin and will have one more piece of fast work to top him off for Sunday's race. "He's been really keen in his work and he came home the last 600m the other day to break 36 seconds.
"Michael Rodd will be here to ride him in his final gallop and that was always our intention to get two gallops into him and keep him in his routine."
Mufhasa was partnered by Rodd when they finish a gallant second behind Pierro in the George Ryder Stakes at Randwick earlier this month after throat surgery.
"To have run as well as he did was amazing after everything he had been through and he did it all while he was travelling - it wasn't as if he was at home in his own stable," Wallace said.
"The run in the George Ryder was like a win and one of the best experiences I've ever been through with a horse. That underlined just how good he is."
One of New Zealand's most successful jumps riders will return to the saddle at Te Rapa on Saturday, after an eight-year absence.
Craig Thornton has renewed his licence to continue a career that saw him dominant on the domestic scene, as well as internationally with major race victories to his credit in Australia and Japan and for several years he was one of North America's finest.
Among his overseas highlights was his 2003 Nakayama Grand Jump win on John Wheeler's St Steven.
"Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever, but I've always enjoyed being fit and I'm in pretty good shape," Thornton said. "I've made an extra effort since Christmas and been on a strict fitness regime ever since.
"I've got two rides on Saturday, Zagata and Evathreestep, and there's some nice horses of my own I'd like to ride."
Thornton has a promising team in work at Cambridge and would be selective about his outside riding commitments. "It's fair to say the team I've got around me has influenced my decision. I've got a couple of nice ones off the flat as well, including Our Destiny, who will be progressing into hurdling and that's where my responsibilities lie."
- NZ Racing Desk