The announcement of all invited runners for the December 9 internationals takes place on Wednesday but, in the meantime, Hong Kong will lay out its defensive line-up for the world to see at Sha Tin’s international prelude meeting on Sunday.
It will be required viewing for Australian trainers John O’Shea and Jake Stephens as well as many others around the world as Hong Kong’s best contest the three Group Two designated lead-ups at 1,200m, 1,600m and 2,000m.
Group One winners concede five pounds to their rivals under the conditions and the history of these races has seen many upset wins and champions toppled. Headlining will be the Jockey Club Mile clash of Hong Kong’s champion, Ambitious Dragon, with dual international winner Xtension, proven high class gallopers Glorious Days and Sweet Orange, and up and coming star, Military Attack.
Ambitious Dragon defeated Glorious Days first-up but trainer John Size has added blinkers to Glorious Days in an effort to close the margin between them. The Jockey Club Sprint has an extra angle to it, the inclusion of Singapore star Super Easy, but he will have his work cut out handling 2011 Hong Kong Sprint winner Lucky Nine and Ascot winner Little Bridge at the top of the weights and rising names Admiration, Captain Sweet and Time After Time lower down.
Zac Purton has warned there is still improvement in Little Bridge and Lucky Nine appears the horse to beat after an unlucky first-up defeat in Japan’s premier sprint. John Moore has 15 of the 37 runners in the three events and one of the tastiest clashes will be the Jockey Club Cup meeting of Hong Kong Cup winner California Memory, back to some form with a big run first-up, and Moore’s rising star Packing Whiz.
Elsewhere in Asia, Kyoto hosts the Mile Championship, a Group One race which has long been a guide to the Japanese visitors for the Hong Kong Mile.
By Nathan Mody