Jenny - Clean


INITIAL entries for the 2009 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races point towards a series of season-defining clashes with hundreds of the sport’s best active thoroughbreds under consideration for an invitation to Sha Tin for the Turf World Championships on December 13.

At the close of first nominations last week, the Hong Kong Jockey Club received 298 nominations, comprising 79 individual Gr.1 winners. These entries hail from a tally of 17 racing jurisdictions.

"These entries promise championship fields for the Turf World Championships. We can expect winners from the Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup meetings to clash with defending international champions in Hong Kong across a variety of distances. The quality and diversity of these nominations include a Kentucky Derby winner, the Australian and Japanese Horses of the Year, Classic winners from throughout the globe…and we are just scratching the surface,” said Mr William A Nader, Executive Director of Racing of the HKJC.

“The preparation for this year’s meeting also takes on a new dimension with up to four overseas horses invited to contest each of our three key international trials in November. We will announce the invited horses for these trials next Tuesday, 27 October.”

2009 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races – Featured Nominations

Cathay Pacific HONG KONG SPRINT (HK$12m – US$1.55m – Gr.1 – 1200m)

This race consistently produces the world’s highest-ranked sprinter and has gone to a Hong Kong-trained horse for each of the past seven years. However, Scenic Blast, Australia’s Horse of the Year, is already at Sha Tin preparing to break the local stranglehold and collect a US$1m bonus for winning three Gr.1 legs of the Global Sprint Challenge. Eight-time Gr.1 champion Apache Cat is another prominent entry from Australia.

Topping the European list of entrants are the Prix de l’Abbaye winner Total Gallery, July Cup heroine Fleeting Spirit and the dual Nunthorpe Stakes victor, the ever consistent Borderlescott.

Cannonball, the American-trained speedster who made such a big impression at Royal Ascot this year, and Japan’s best sprinter, Laurel Guerreiro, recently successful in the Sprinters’ Stakes, are also in line to make this race the most explosive sprint of the year.

Hong Kong can be expected to field the two most recent winners of this race, Sacred Kingdom and Inspiration, allied to the up-and-coming Happy Zero.

Cathay Pacific HONG KONG VASE (HK$14m – US$1.8m – Gr.1 – 2400m)

An event that has been the preserve of European raiders for over a decade and two British stars, Conduit and Youmzain, head the entries this year.

The former has won three Gr.1s including the Breeders’ Cup Turf and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at this distance; the latter has remarkably finished runner-up in the last three editions of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but still won twice at the highest level.

Dar Re Mi, Europe’s best staying female, is also present as well as Epsom Oaks winner Look Here and Gr.1 winner Spanish Moon, trained, like Conduit, by Sir Michael Stoute.

Eastern Anthem and Mastery, respective victors of the Dubai Sheema Classic and the St Leger this year, appear the main Vase representatives from Godolphin, whereas triple Gr.1 winner Presious Passion looks a very interesting contender from the USA.

Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year Viva Pataca, Thumbs Up and rising star Young Elite provide local fans with hope of wresting this race for the first time since 1998.

Cathay Pacific HONG KONG MILE (HK$16m – US$2m – Gr.1 – 1600m)

Judged on her incredible dismissal of Europe’s best milers by six lengths at Deauville in August, six-time Gr.1 winner Goldikova, currently the world’s highest-rated active performer, is among the best females to grace the sport in the past decade.

Vodka, on the other hand, is the most successful female in the history of Japanese racing and she has won the Yasuda Kinen twice at this distance for the past two years.

Australian Gr.1 winner Black Piranha and Delegator, now with Godolphin, are other names to note from around the world.

Good Ba Ba will make history if he can win the Mile for a third time; others have tried but no horse has ever landed a hat-trick of international successes. Gr.1 stars Sight Winner and Egyptian Ra add weight to the home-based defence.

Cathay Pacific HONG KONG CUP (HK$20m – US$2.5m – Gr.1 – 2000m)

Hong Kong’s richest race and Eagle Mountain is expected to return to the scene of his victory a year ago. Here he is likely to encounter another international Sha Tin specialist, Presvis who captured the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at this distance in April for Luca Cumani.

Mine That Bird is the first Kentucky Derby winner to become an entrant for Hong Kong, while Gio Ponti is officially the best turf performer in America.  Vision D’Etat has won the French Derby and the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot to mark himself out as among the European elite at this trip. Dream Journey, meanwhile, is Japan’s highest-ranked thoroughbred and is also tipped for an appearance in Hong Kong’s richest race.

Closer to home, trainer John Moore has plotted this race for Collection ever since he won the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby last season.

“We believe these four races represent the pinnacle of turf racing. We now look forward to some truly spectacular clashes between the world’s best horses on the second Sunday in December at Sha Tin,” Mr Nader added.


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