A TOTAL of 80 internationally recognized Group 1 winners are among the 267 nominations for the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 9 December.

The four prestigious Group 1 contests are staged under the LONGINES banner for the first time this year and carry total prize money of HK$72 million, placing the “Turf World Championships” among the top three most lucrative race days on the globe.

This year’s nominations read like a who’s who of thoroughbred superstars with the world’s highest rated horse in training Cirrus Des Aigles, recent Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe heroine Solemia and crack miler Excelebration leading a stellar provisional cast list that represents 13 nations and jurisdictions.

“We are delighted with the depth of quality the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races have once again attracted at the nomination stage,” said The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing, William A Nader. “Such star names are what we have come to expect from our flagship race day, an event that is one of Hong Kong’s most famous sporting spectacles. With LONGINES joining us for the first time this year, we are confident that this great occasion, now widely recognised as the Turf World Championships, can only enhance its standing as the sport’s annual international finale.”

Cirrus Des Aigles was last seen making the now retired Frankel work a little for his win in the G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot on 20 October. Corine Barande-Barbe’s charge has the HK$22 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) as his preferred end of year target.

Also among the 103 engaged in that flagship 2000m contest are two notable entries from the USA in last year’s G1 Kentucky Derby victor Animal Kingdom and triple G1 winner Dullahan. Rulership won the G1 QEII Cup over the course and distance in April for Japan, while Siyouma, already a G1 winner in Europe and North America, could line up for trainer Francois Doumen. Hong Kong’s two-time Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon is nominated to both the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup and the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

Heading 99 nominations to the HK$20 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Excelebration, so impressive when winning the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes earlier this month. The race could be a vintage with the likes of the brilliant Moonlight Cloud and Japan’s emerging mile star Curren Black Hill, also possible runners, along with Hong Kong’s G1 Champions Mile hero Xtension.

In the HK$15 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), the 84 nominees include Australian speedsters Sea Siren, Buffering and Temple Of Boom, as well as Japan’s standout pair of Lord Kanaloa and Curren Chan. They are likely to face last year’s winner Lucky Nine and G1 King’s Stand Stakes hero Little Bridge, both representing Hong Kong. Singapore’s star four-year-old, Super Easy, also has the Sprint as his prime target.

France’s latest heroine Solemia heads a spectacular list of 87 nominees for the HK$15 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m), which includes multiple G1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Turf hero St Nicholas Abbey. Last year’s winner Dunaden, who recently added the G1 Caulfield Cup to his big-race haul, could defend his crown. He is one of two G1 Melbourne Cup winners engaged, the other being Americain. Classic-winning filly Dancing Rain has scored twice in G1 company in Europe and could make the trip from Britain having warmed up with a promising seasonal debut at Ascot last time.

Among the 13 jurisdictions with nominations, Hong Kong has the most with 57 while Great Britain has 43, Japan 37, France 36, USA 30, Australia 24 and Ireland 16. Germany has eight horses nominated, while the UAE has six, Singapore has four, South Africa three, New Zealand two, and Canada one.

Prize money for the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup has been increased from HK$20 million to HK$22 million and both the Sprint and Vase have received a HK$1 million increase to HK$15 million.  The LONGINES Hong Kong Mile offers prize money of HK$20 million, making it one of the world’s richest races at the distance.



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