The second-richest race in the sport of kings always attracts its fair share of international contestants and this year’s running is no exception.
Among those due to duke out the 2014 Hong Kong Cup are France’s multiple Group-1-winner Cirrus Des Aigles (7/1), Australian Derby king Criterion (16/1) and Farraaj (7/1), trained at Newmarket by Roger Varian.
However, if the trend of home-trained victors in place since Ascot’s Champions Day horned in on the end-of-season limelight in 2011 is to be overturned, it may be Japan’s lightly-raced Archimedes (10/1) who does the damage.
There seems little between Hong Kong’s representatives based on the Grade 2 Jockey Club Cup over course and distance in late November.
A length separated the first five home, with Blazing Speed emerging from the proverbial heap at the jam stick ahead of Military Attack (4/1), Endowing (20/1), California Memory (16/1) and Designs On Rome (3/1).
The main feather in his cap is a three-and-a-half length second to none other than Just A Way, aka the highest–rated racehorse in training, over 1m1f at Nakayama in March.
It came under a month before his conqueror carried off the Dubai Duty Free by an astonishing six-and-a-quarter lengths, earning a sky-high rating of 130 in the process.
Hideaka Fujiwara’s five-year-old had previously finished less than a two-length third to the Japanese superstar over a mile at Hanchin.
That was only the fourth run of Archimedes’ career and he has been off the track since, meaning that unlike his raiding rivals he’s not here on the back of a tough campaign.
Cirrus Des Aigles is making his fifth attempt to land the prize off the back of seven races already this term.
Meanwhile, Criterion has raced six times since the end of August without success, while Farraaj has never scored at the highest level.
Archimedes has plenty to prove after several months away from the track, but the fact that connections are running him is a vote of confidence in itself.
Improvement must surely be expected over the longest trip he has tackled to date in a short career that suggests he could be on course for the top.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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