No proof is actually required to demonstrate the international in the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races – the turf world championships – at Sha Tin on Sunday, but there was a moment on Thursday morning that ably gave the flavour of the forthcoming meeting.
Right out in the back straight hard up against the outside fence two runners from Japan walked before stepping out for a gallop on the Turf track. Hugh Bowman, to be crowned the LONGINES Worlds Best Jockey for 2018 on Friday night, was on Staphanos (JPN) and Joao Moreira on Tosen Basil (NZ).
The Sydney based Australian Bowman is currently riding in Japan this month and just two weeks ago franked that short term contract winning the Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m) at Tokyo on Cheval Grand (JPN). On Sunday he rides the Hideki Fujiwara trained Staphanos in the Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Brazilian Joao Moreira, based at Sha Tin and current leading rider in Hong Kong, rides Fujiwara’s Tosen Basil in the Hong Kong Vase (2400m), in probably the best field assembled for the Vase.
Bowman and Moreira chatted away as their good looking mounts strolled the track before Bowman led out with Staphanos with Moreira and Tosen Basil giving them 2L as they increased speed through the bottom turn into the main straight.
Joao Moreira (inside) on Tosen Basil (JPN) and Hugh Bowman on Staphanos (JPN) in the main straight, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
There they levelled up and went past the stands together with Tosen Basil having a head in front at the line before they came off the pace. It was good work from both as they go into their respective races on Sunday trying to emulate last year’s Japanese victories in the Vase by Satono Crown (JPN) and the mighty Maurice (JPN) in the Cup.
The Hong Kong and Japanese connections were further on display when last night’s LONGINES International Jockeys Championship winning jockey Zac Purton took Makoto Saito’s filly Once In A Moon (JPN) through the mare’s paces on the Turf before her race in the Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
Later on Thursday Once In A Moon, surely the omen wager with the real moon putting on a larger display earlier this week even in Hong Kong’s sky, drew barrier two for the Sprint and from that barrier Purton will be able to lead out as the mare likes to do.
A Japanese sprinter has not won since the rocket Lord Kanaloa (JPN) completed his double in 2012 and 2013, the latter in record time of 1.08.25. Memorable powerhouse sprinting it was.
The activity of all three riders on their mounts was another small example of the international meeting ahead.