HKIR Attracts 262 Early Nominations | TDN | Thoroughbred Dai…

HKIR Attracts 262 Early Nominations | TDN | Thoroughbred Dai…

Beauty Generation is on track to defend in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile | HKJC photo

By Alan Carasso

A total of 262 nominations encompassing 191 different horses from 12 different racing jurisdictions–including a landmark representative from the Czech Republic–have been received by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for the 2018 Longines Hong Kong International Races. Exactly one-third of the horses entered have won a top-level event. The four Group 1 events, to be contested at distances from 1200m to 2400m and worth a record total of HK$93 million (£9.2 million/€10.4 million/A$16.8 million/US$11.9 million), will be staged Sunday, Dec. 9, at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Among the entries are three of last year’s winners, each locally based, including defending Longines Hong Kong Cup hero Time Warp (GB) (Archipenko); Horse of the Year Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}), who will look to go back-to-back in the Longines Hong Kong Mile; and Mr Stunning (Aus) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) shooting for consecutive wins in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

But given the depth of quality from all over the world, it will prove no easy task. The Japanese can always be counted upon to field a top team for the HKIR and 2018 would appear to be no different. There is no more exciting entrant from the island nation than Almond Eye (Jpn), a daughter of two-time Hong Kong Sprint hero Lord Kanaloa (Jpn), who recently completed a sweep of the fillies’ Triple Crown in the G1 Shuka Sho. The Silk Racing runner was given entries in both the Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) and would take some beating in either spot. Godolphin’s last-out G1 Sprinters’ S. victor Fine Needle (Jpn) (Admire Moon {Jpn}) is in line for a second trip to Hong Kong, having run a good fourth to Ivictory (Aus) (Mossman {Aus}) in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize last April. Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}), victorious in the G1 Yasuda Kinen in June, could fly the flag in the Longines Hong Kong Mile, while recent G1 Kikuka Sho winner Etario (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn}) could be joined by former Longines Hong Kong Vase by that race’s 2016 winner Satono Crown (Jpn) (Marju {Ire}).

There are quiet rumours that the quarantine issues that have halted Australian participation in international racing in Hong Kong are about to be eased, and with that in mind, some 24 horses have been entered across the four races. While Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}) is not among them, the Australian challenge in the Sprint is formidable on paper, with eight of the nine entrants already winners at the Group 1 level. That list includes Viddora (Aus) (I Am Invincible {Aus}), Vega Magic (Aus) (Lope de Vega {Ire}), The Everest runner-up Trapeze Artist (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}) and Santa Ana Lane (Aus) (Lope de Vega {Ire}).

Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) won the Vase for the second time in three years in 2017, defeating Godolphin’s Talismanic (GB) (Medaglia d’Oro), and Ballydoyle names dot the entries for the HKIR. Highland Reel’s brother Idaho (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was given an entry in the Vase, while Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy) and Rhododendron (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) could represent the team in the Cup. U S Navy Flag (War Front), the G1 Darley July Cup winner who flopped in unsuitably soft ground in The Everest, could take in the Sprint and Gustav Klimt (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), the G1 St James’s Palace runner-up, has been given the option of a run in the Hong Kong Mile. Trainer Aidan O’Brien’s son Joseph could send out G1 Irish Derby upsetter Latrobe (Ire) (Camelot {Ire}).

Staj Bonanza’s Czech Republic-based Subway Dancer (Ire) (Shamardal) covered himself in glory with a third-place effort to Cracksman (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in last Saturday’s G1 QIPCO British Champion S. and could take his place in the field for the Cup.

Seven entries were received from American-based runners, including Mind Your Biscuits (Posse), who was nominated to each race bar the Vase. Yoshida (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) and Voodoo Song (English Channel) were entered for the Mile, while two-time GII Woodford S. winner Bucchero (Kantharos), MGSW Disco Partner (Disco Rico) and top dirt horse Imperial Hint (Imperialism) were handed entries for the Sprint.

Others among the 44 local entries include the progressive sprinter Hot King Prawn (Aus) (Denman {Aus}); ‘TDN Rising Star’ and MG1SW Pakistan Star (Ger) (Shamardal); former Horse of the Year Werther (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}); and the talented John Size-trained sprinters D B Pin (NZ) (Darci Brahma {NZ}) and Beat the Clock (Aus) (Hinchinbrook {Aus}).

“Hong Kong in December is a destination that appeals to the world’s great horsemen and that is borne out by the fact that we have entries from 12 jurisdictions, with many of the world’s most prominent trainers and owners looking to end their year on a high at Sha Tin in four career-defining races,” said Andrew Harding, Executive Director, Racing, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.


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