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It’s Hong Kong or bust this Sunday

December 8, 2011

Punters looking for some racing action this Sunday could do much worse than check out the annual Hong Kong International Meeting, a day billed as racing’s turf world championship as well as the close of the of the northern hemisphere flat racing season.

The Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), Hong Kong Mile (1600m), Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) have attracted classy fields, with horses from the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, and of course Hong Kong, set to take part in the four Group 1 events.

Notably, however, not one Australian-trained horse will run.

While a number of Australian contenders were nominated, the only horse  whose connections actively sought an invite from the Hong Kong Jockey Club was Galaxy winner Atomic Force, but his form was judged to be below the standard required for the Hong Kong Sprint and an invitation was not issued.

While numbers have been light in recent years, it has been rare for Australia not to have at least one representative at the meeting, with the last Aussie-less International Meet 6 years ago in 2005. Australian punters will instead have to be content with cheering on jockeys Craig Williams, Darren Beadman, Brett Prebble, and Zac Purton who all have rides across the program.

Away from the jockeys, there is plenty of relevance for Australian punters looking to draw a line on spring carnival form with Cox Plate runner up Jimmy Choux and the Melbourne Cup quinella of Dunaden and Red Cadeaux all set to run on Sunday.

Australian-breds are also well represented, with Rocket Man and Sacred Kingdom set to fly the flag once again for the Australian breeding industry.

The Hong Kong Sprint could justifiably be labelled an Australian breeder’s dream, with all bar one winner – last year’s victor J J The Jet Plane – Australian bred, and that trend looks likely to continue this year despite the absence of the world’s best sprinter Black Caviar.

Rocket Man will start favourite in an attempt to add to his already imposing record, while 2007/2009 winner Sacred Kingdom will be looking to win his third Hong Kong Sprint.

If he achieves that feat, all three wins will have been in non-consecutive feats – an incredible testament to his longevity at the top.

Other Sprint starters bred in Australia include Entrapment, Green Birdie, Admiration and Rich Unicorn, while Golden Jubilee Stakes winner Society Rock and Japan’s Sprinters Stakes winner Curran Chan look the main dangers to Australian breeding dominance.

Jimmy Choux looks well suited in the Hong Kong Mile, a race that New Zealand last won in 2000 with Sunline. Jimmy is incredibly consistent and genuine, and with any luck at all should be right in the finish.

His main opposition looks to come from the locals, with Champions Mile winner Xtension, Jockey Club Mile winner Destined For Glory and last year’s winner Beauty Flash forming a strong defence.

The interesting runner is Dubawi Gold, who has finished behind champion galloper Frankel on three occasions this year, while three time Sun Chariot Stakes winner Sahpresa will be looking to continue her fine form here.

The Hong Kong Vase may provide one of the highlights of the night for Australian punters, with Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden set to lock horns with runner up Red Cadeaux once more.

The smallest margin in Melbourne Cup history separated the two at Flemington, but Dunaden receives weight relief from Red Cadeaux and should prove hard to beat.

Other names familiar to Australian punters include Mighty High, who finished fourth to Descarado in the Caulfield Stakes and a poor second last to Southern Speed in the Caulfield Cup; Mr Medici, 6th in last year’s Caulfield Cup behind Descarado; and Campanologist, a well beaten 16th in last year’s Melbourne Cup behind Americain.

Cirrus des Aigles headlines the Hong Kong Cup following his last start win in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, where he defeated dual Cox Plate winner So You Think.

The French galloper finished seventh last year, but he has vastly improved this year and was recently named the Eclipse Older Horse of the Year in Britain.

In what shapes to be a Hong Kong vs Europe tussle, the main danger is the local Ambitious Dragon – the Hong Kong Derby and QEII Cup winner who produced an incredible trial when second in the Jockey Club Mile.

The first of the four races is the Hong Kong Vase, to be run at 5:00pm AEDT on Sunday.

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