As a jet setter of some note (I made that bit up), I am extremely fortunate to be writing this from Hong Kong as the build-up continues to the LONGINE Hong Kong International races at Sha Tin on Sunday that feature four Group One’s, and a whole host of European challengers.
It has taken me over thirty years in this game to finally put a cap on my patriotism and realise that perhaps we will not win every race at every meeting around the world, though I still lean towards our horses if only because the names and connections are that much more familiar as is the form.
Personally I do not read too much in to the morning trackwork other than overall well being of a horse because unless you see said animal work every day over a period of time it is impossible to spot the differences. Howevr I have been listening to the locals about their horses as they do know what they are doing and all information is good information, if you use it wisely of course.
Starting with the Hong Kong Vase, it really is a race we, as in Europe, should expect to take, and with eight of the fourteen runners, the maths is on our side.
France have won this ten times and have as good a chance as any of number eleven thanks to Arc fourth Waldgeist. With no logical arguments, he has failed to spark the interest in me that he has in others just yet and looks too short in the betting which probably means he will win by half a street.
Highland Reel won this in 2015 and 2017 and was second in 2016 for Aidan O’Brien who clearly knows the sort needed, yet I can get 33/1 about Rostropovich who represents him this season. That looks madness to me and he does have decent form as well including an Irish Derby second, to Latrobe who is also entered here, and a good fifth in the Melbourne Cup last time out. Although I am wary he is more stamina than speed, that price is just too good to turn down.
I am wary that Ryan Moore rides Mirage Dancer instead which is a little off putting and will see me reducing stakes accordingly, but 33/1 for an Aidan horse has to be madness and he will carry the majority of my each way stakes.
Ryan Moore on Mirage Dancer, photo Liesl King
On to the Sprint next and if I am honest, I cannot see David Elsworth’s Sir Dancealot winning here against such a strong local field, though I would love to be proved wrong.
Hot King Prawn in the punter’s favourite here and is a standing dish in the big sprints (Did he really write that? - Editor), but I just get the feeling that Mr Stunning is the one to be on again this year.
The winner last season, he will be fully primed for this after a good second last time out, and if can get into gear when asked he can beat the jolly at these weights at a slightly more rewarding price. If there is a dark horse here then it could be Lim’s Cruiser who has top form at home in Singapore and he could be anything if transferring recent efforts to Hong Kong.
Two to go and all eyes will be on Beauty Generation in the Mile, though odds on is going a bit too far and I am hoping for a slightly better price on the day.
Beauty Generation does arrive here in imperious form with three wins already this season and is tactically as versatile as needed. He really ought to win this and do so with ease if reproducing his best form which includes a course record breaking win last time out leaving the rest likely to be playing for the places. I do like Mozu Ascot for the forecast while Inns Of Court could prove best of the European challengers.
With HK$28 million up for grabs there is no surprise to see a classy field assemble for the Hong Kong Cup but finding the winner still looks pretty tricky.
Last year the money went to Time Warp who is back for more and is now the shortest priced of the local horses with the late withdrawal through injury of Werther. On paper he simply doesn’t look good enough this year with the market headed by Sungrazer and then Deirdre for Japan.
Both will go well but I cannot choose between them, so I am going to have a “stupid” bet on Stormy Atlantic who ran poorly here in headgear last season when running far too freely. I just get the feeling Ed Walker feels he has something to prove after that run which is why he is back for more, and as he has been gelded since and settles better in his races there is a lot to like about the 25/1 chance. His form stands out to me with a length and a half fourth to Roaring Lion at Ascot in October when left with too much to do and giving the winner three pounds. A repeat of that may well see him run a big race here at an exaggerated price.
Stormy Antarctic paddock schooling ahead of the Turf World Championships, photo Liesl King
Good luck and be sure to watch the broadcast no matter where you happen to be in the racing world.