In the 19 years since its first running the Hong Kong Vase prize has travelled the long way back to Britain on seven occasions and that dominance of one of the Far East’s most sought-after treasures looks set to continue.
Despite being one of the most well travelled handlers in the world John Gosden has not yet personally contributed to the domestic tally but there is no doubt he is holding the best hand in a bid to do so in the shape of his wonderfully talented filly, The Fugue.
The race, one of four Hong Kong International Races next week, was elevated to Group 1 status in 2000 and it is questionable how many of the field can genuinely be considered up to that level.
This is not an accusation that can be levelled at Gosden’s daughter of Dansili. A remarkably consistent career – of which she has only finished outside the frame twice– has only got better with time and kinder conditions.
A three-and-a-half-length defeat to the horse of that moment Al Kazeem on his seasonal reappearance in the Prince of Wales Stakes was followed by an unjustifiably poor run when last in the Coral Eclipse and connections were soon proved to be right when striking it from any record of relevance.
A six week break was afforded and the decision rewarded with one of the most visually impressive runs of the season when proving far too good in the Yorkshire Oaks.
The Irish Champion Stakes pitted the heroine of the piece against Roger Charlton’s star once more but this time it was The Fugue that prevailed and confirmed what many had long suspected, that Lord Lloyd-Webber had in his possession a horse of the very highest calibre.
Despite being touched off for the second year running at the Breeders’ Cup next time out when having what looked like near certain redemption snatched away from a fellow raider in Aidan O’Brien’s Magician, Gosden and co. will arrive at Sha Tin in understandably bullish mood.
Only a brief look at the comments from those travelling head lads who will be accompanying The Fugue’s nearest opposition gives the impression of what those in the very heart of the contest feel about it.
Ed Dunlop’s Robin Trevor-Jones, who has been charged with looking after one of the most seasoned globetrotters of stables worldwide, Red Cadeaux has said “…our main problem is The Fugue.”
Paul Francis, representing Marco Botti and last month’s Melbourne Cup fifth Dandino was equally realistic in agreement, “[he] is the one to beat.”
Unfortunately the layers have taken the same view, 5/4 to be exact. Short but rightfully so.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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