There will be upwards of HK$83m on offer at Sha Tin in the early hours of Sunday morning as the track gets its day on the world stage with the Longines Hong Kong International Races.
With so much prize money up for grabs there is little surprise that a large battalion of foreign raiders have made the trip to the Far East to stake their claim for the four big races.
Seven horses from Britain and Ireland make the trip, but with plenty of European and American challengers also heading out to the track, it probably won’t all go the way of the home representatives.
We’ve picked out three of those that could leave the local trainers cursing their luck…
Hong Kong Vase – Flintshire
An obvious place to start, Andre Fabre’s horse is back to defend his crown in the opening Grade 1 on the card.
When he gets his conditions the five-year-old is unbelievably consistent, winning five and being placed on six of his 12 runs when the ground has been good or faster.
He’s the highest of the European principles in the betting – Cirrus Des Aigles is 2lbs higher, but has trip and ground questions – and having finished second in the last two Prix de l’Ard de Triomphes is a class act.
Connections decided to skip the Breeders’ Cup to take aim at this race and there’s every reason to believe that this course and distance winner can start the day off with a bang for the European representatives.
Hong Kong Sprint – Green Mask
The sole US representative in our trio looks cherry-ripe to appreciate this slight step-up to six furlongs.
He was staying on excellently in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, when just running out of track to reel in Mongolian Saturday at Keeneland.
It was a similar story over five furlongs in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan when Wesley Ward’s charge was nearest at the finish behind Sole Power in March.
He’s yet to get his nose in front in the last 12 months, but has placed in four of his last outings and with the extra distance likely to suit, the 12/1 on offer could be an absolute gift for each-way players.
Hong Kong Mile – Mondialiste
David O’Meara has worked wonders since taking care of the five-year-old from Freddy Head, saddling him to win a Grade 1 and a second-placed finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
He’s a horse that takes in his travelling well, winning in France, the UK and Canada before being placed in Kentucky last time out, so the flight to Hong Kong shouldn’t take it out of him.
A mile on decent ground looks ideal for him, and he can be expected to put in a big run.
Whether he has enough to usurp defending champ, and Sha Tin expert Able Friend – 12 wins and five places from 18 runs there – remains to be seen, but with the jolly tasting defeat on two of his last three starts, it’s worth taking a punt on him making the frame.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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