They go at Sha Tin racecourse out in Hong Kong on Sunday 10th December for their big meeting of the season the Longines Hong Kong International races. They host four Group Ones on the card and some big names, both equine and human will be strutting their stuff.
Following on from the Tinge Creek meeting at Sandown on Saturday afternoon and the inevitable massive hangover there will be a big old pot of black coffee and a fry-up on the go at Triple G Towers!
The first of the big races is the 1m4f G.1 Hong Kong Vase and with Hong Kong being 8 hours ahead of us they are due under starts orders at 6.00am our time here in the UK – that’s correct 6.00am! Aiden O’Brien has sent 2015 winner Highland Reel over again having finished second last year and the 5yo is the top rated runner. It’s his last run before retiring I understand. I have a knack of getting the horse wrong and his supporters will be cheered to read I am not backing him. Japanese St Leger winner Kiseki trained by Katsuhiko Sumii enters calculations under the race conditions as a 3yo colt getting 5lb off his elders. His participation was in doubt after the three-year-old was found to have symptoms of ringworm on arrival but all is well and he runs. The three draw is nigh on perfect so at 9-2 I have taken a chance.
The Tin Man misses the six furlong Group One Hong Kong Sprint at 6.40am having shown a fever earlier in the week. John Size has four of the 13 runners in his care and his Mr Stunning has headed the ante-post lists for a while. He has been too good for stable mates D B Pin and Wizardofoz the last twice as well as Francis Lui trained hopeful Lucky Bubbles. Stall four is no bad thing, Lucky Bubbles has the one slot but no horse has won this from that draw whilst the race has been over six. Mr Stunning looks a pretty solid punt to my eyes and I have the 2-1.
After steeling 60 minutes shut-eye it’s back at it at 7.50am for the G.1 Hong Kong Mile. I have said before Lancaster Bomber is going to win Group One sooner rather than later and free of the shackles of front-running duties for Ballydoyle here he has a chance. Roly Poly has also taken a trip to the old colony from Co. Tipperary and as a 3yo filly gets a handy bit of weight from her opposition. Both though have high number stalls which won’t help and I can’t be backing them. Seasons Bloom is the jolly with old Magic Man Moreira getting the leg-up. The 5yo won the G.2 Jockey Club Mile as a warm-up last month and is unsurprisingly the favourite. Beauty Only was fourth that day, tracked the winner and both came late and wide into the straight but he never looked like beating the winner. I am on the Danny Shum trained 5yo for this at 3-1.
Finally at 8.30am the Group One Hong Kong Cup is the main event over 1m2f with a total prize fund of HK$25 million. Local hope Werther trained by John Moore has been jolly for a while and won the G.2 Jockey Club Cup over track and trip as a warm-up and the draw has been kind. At 2-1 the six-year-old is the pick. Neorealism with Moreira in the saddle is feared as is Time Warp. Sir Michael Stoute has sent Poets World and he is in with a squeak though the 12 stall does not help. Talking at the draw trainer John Moore was pleased with Werther’s gate three: “Werther’s the flagship horse,” he said. “We wanted three, four or five – when the owner drew three, I couldn’t believe it. The owner did a great job drawing gate three, especially with Neorealism drawing the inside and Time Warp in gate five. The pace influences are all around us so they are going to go forward, so we are going to get the gun run. He’s got enough gate speed, so he’ll be tracking the speed. From our point of view, the draw is perfect.”
And that’s that, all being well four winners out in Hong Kong early doors before a well earned lazy Sunday afternoon doing very little.