Hong Kong Set to Welcome the World for Longines HKIR | TDN |…

Hong Kong Set to Welcome the World for Longines HKIR | TDN |…

By Alan Carasso

A total of 50 horses–split evenly between those based locally and abroad–from seven different racing jurisdictions have been extended invitations to the HK$93-million Longines Hong Kong International Races to be held at Sha Tin Racecourse Sunday, Dec. 9. Of the 50 entrants, fully 23 have already managed a win at the top level.

The home team took down three of the four events last year, and Time Warp (GB) (Archipenko), Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}) and Mr Stunning (Aus) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) are back 12 months later looking to defend in the G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m), G1 Hong Kong Mile and G1 Hong Kong Sprint, respectively. Only Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who stood his first year at stud in 2018, is missing, and it can be argued that the G1 Hong Kong Vase is the day’s most intriguing affair.

A full field of 14 could go postward, including the Aidan O’Brien-trained Capri (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Latrobe (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), conditioned by Joseph O’Brien, and who between them have accounted for the last two runnings of the G1 Irish Derby. The form of the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is represented by Waldgeist (Ger) (Galileo {Ire}), fourth at ParisLongchamp, the fifth-placed Capri, and Salouen (Ire) (Canford Cliffs {Ire}), sixth at 100-1, while Prince of Arran (GB) (Shirocco {Ger}) and Rostropovich (GB) (Frankel {GB}) exit the G1 Melbourne Cup.

The Cup, the day’s richest event at HK$28 million, looks a wide-open race. Time Warp looks to join California Memory (Highest Honor {Fr}) as back-to-back winners of the Cup, but the task will not be straight-forward. Japanese runners account for better than a third of the foreign raiders with nine runners across the races, and based on his strong runner-up effort in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) Oct. 28, Sungrazer (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) will take some beating. The Classic-winning filly Deirdre (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) and veteran Staphanos (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) round out the island nation’s stiff challenge. Former Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}) gives the home team another live chance, while Northern Superstar (SAf) (Count Dubois {SAf}), the former MG1SW Edict of Nantes and now based in Hong Kong with Tony Millard, is an interesting entrant.

The Mile very much goes through Beauty Generation, but the Japanese duo of G1 Yasuda Kinen hero Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}) and Persian Knight (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}), recent runner-up in defence of his G1 Mile Championship title, look formidable on paper. While there were no U.S.-based acceptors for the meeting, American owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stable will be represented by One Master (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), who owns a win against the boys in the G1 Prix de la Foret on Arc weekend and was a close fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile. G2 Summer S. hero Beat the Bank (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}) will carry the colors of the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s King Power Racing in trying to give Europe a rare win in the Mile.

The Sprint looks to be dominated yet again by the deep bench of local sprinters, including the in-form Hot King Prawn (Aus) (Denman {Aus}), Beat the Clock (Aus) (Hinchinbrook {Aus}) and last year’s runner-up D B Pin (NZ) (Darci Brahma {NZ}) in addition to Mr Stunning. Each of those is capable on its day, but the same could be said for Godolphin’s Fine Needle (Jpn) (Admire Moon {Jpn}) if he performs to the level of his wins in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen and G1 Sprinters’ S. Sir Dancealot (Ire) (Sir Prancealot {Ire}), a three-time group-winning sprinter this term, is the lone European participant in a race no horse from Europe has ever managed to win. Lim’s Cruiser (Aus) (Casino Prince {Aus}) is Singapore’s lone participant at the HKIR.

“The Longines Hong Kong International Races is firmly established among a select handful of the world’s great international racing occasions,” said Andrew Harding, executive director, racing, for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. “We expect to see excellence at this event and with strong contenders like Hong Kong’s own incredible Beauty Generation, Japan’s Fine Needle, and European stars including Waldgeist and Latrobe, we can expect another thrilling afternoon of sport on 9 December.”

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