Hong Kong Jockey Club opens up to the world on Sunday for the four Group Ones that it touts as the world turf championships, with a big and parochial crowd hoping for home town heroes but the depth this year across the international events will ensure they will be well earned, whoever wins them.
Australia’s greatest hopes would lie with John O’Shea’s sprinter, Sea Siren, who has travelled and worked as well as her trainer probably could have hoped and is worthy of her place amongst the favourites, but fans should be aware that a win is by no means any formality.
Local sprinters have been beaten only once in the past 11 years, and while there is no Silent Witness or Sacred Kingdom, the likes of Lucky Nine and Time After Time head up a strong home team. Japanese sprinters have yet to perform in the race, but Lord Kanaloa and Curren Chan are serious gallopers capable of an upset.
Alcopop is the other Australian and has taken to Sha Tin so well he has even surprised trainer Jake Stephens and jockey Craig Williams.
Last year’s Cup winner, Hong Kong’s California Memory is back on form, while the tip from visiting European trainers is that French Derby winner, Saonois, is a serious threat.
In the Mile, Hong Kong’s Ambitious Dragon and John Size-trained Glorious Days hold the whip hand but the Japanese, Grand Prix Boss and Sadamu Patek are strong and there is a groundswell of confidence behind French mare, Siyouma, whose work has put every other visiting horse in the shade this week.
The 2,400m Vase is the equal of almost any European Group One, but there have been travel sickness concerns over favourites Sea Moon and Meandre.
Dunaden’s work has been good, if not the spectacular displays of a year ago, and there is some confidence in Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Bayrir, Red Cadeaux and even in-form lesser profile horses like Joshua Tree, Dandino and Japan’s Jaguar Mail.
By Nathan Mody
(Editor’s Note : Sea Moon, favourite for the International Vase 2400m, had travel sickness first three days in Hong Kong and connections decided to scratch the horse on Saturday morning.)