Ben Linfoot provides a race-by-race guide to the Hong Kong International Races on Sunday, complete with video preview and a chat with Lord Grimthorpe.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (6am – all times GMT)
Favourite Waldgeist looks vulnerable on the back of a disappointing effort at the Breeders’ Cup and looks worth taking on, with Sir Michael Stoute’s MIRAGE DANCER taken to land the spoils under Ryan Moore.
No horse has ever won the Vase from stall 13 and Mirage Dancer likes to race up with the pace, but a plethora of hold-up performers could enable Moore to attain his preferred position early on in proceedings.
He’s a lightly-raced improving four-year-old son of Frankel and his last two efforts, in victory in the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood and when runner-up to Young Rascal at Newbury, have been the best of his career.
Freshened up since September for this test, he’s looked in magnificent shape at the early-morning track work this week and he can strike for England in the opening Group One.
Japanese filly Lys Gracieux won the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup last time under Joao Moreira and the brilliant Brazilian and three-time Hong Kong Champion Jockey could be the main danger to the selection.
Eagle Way’s speed over 10 furlongs could well be an asset in this race over a quarter of a mile further and he’s another to consider with Silvestre de Sousa on board, while Pakistan Star is a fascinating contender and is a live threat to all if he settles under William Buick – like he did when the pair teamed up to win the QEII Cup at this track in April.
But while those two have questions to answer, it’s the upwardly mobile MIRAGE DANCER that makes most appeal.
Ben Linfoot’s 1-2-3 Verdict:
1. MIRAGE DANCER
2. Lys Gracieux
3. Eagle Way
📹 NEW VIDEO: Lord Teddy Grimthorpe on the chances of Mirage Dancer...
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (6.40am – all times GMT)
Can Joao Moreira do what he did aboard Peniaphobia in 2015 when making all from a wide draw in 14? That’s the big dilemma for punters with his mount and likely favourite Hot King Prawn breaking from stall 11.
You can see why he’s the 9/4 favourite with the English bookies, as he’s landed nine wins from 10 career starts and eight of those have come at this track, but at a slightly bigger price MR STUNNING could well reverse that recent Jockey Club Sprint form.
A winner of this race last year for Hot King Prawn’s trainer John Size, he has since moved to Frankie Lor and has shaped nicely in two starts for his new handler, finishing third and then second last time.
Both times Hot King Prawn got the better of him, but he was much closer in the Jockey Club Sprint and he gave his big rival significant weight on both occasions – 11lb in the Premier Bowl and then 5lb in their last clash.
Off level weights on Sunday he’s fancied to stalk the likely leader before pouncing late on for Mauritian star Karis Teetan.
Size has a formidable team with Ivictory, D B Pin and Beat The Clock all holding chances, while Japan raider Fine Needle is a double G1 winner in his own country this year.
Sir Dancealot will probably be staying on well over this trip for David Elsworth, but the Hong Kong and Japanese sprinters look too strong and MR STUNNING is selected to find his way to the top of the pile once again.
Ben Linfoot’s 1-2-3 verdict:
1. MR STUNNING
2. Hot King Prawn
3. Fine Needle
📹 NEW VIDEO: Ben Linfoot is joined by Ben Cleminson and Jack Teague to preview the HKIR...
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (7.50am – all times GMT)
We have another hot favourite in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile as Beauty Generation bids to follow up his win in this contest last year on the back of two excellent career-best efforts.
If he repeats the form of his last two successes he wins, but his draw in 12 is not ideal and his jockey Zac Purton felt he had a ‘little bit of an issue with his feet’ when drifting in the straight last time despite his track-record win.
There’s just enough doubt there to take him on each-way at the prices and the one I like is VIVLOS for Japanese trainer Yasuo Tomomichi.
This Deep Impact mare stays further than a mile and will probably need some fierce pace pressure on the favourite if the race is going to pan out for her, but that’s a possibility and she boasts some top-class form.
A winner of the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan in 2017, she was second to Benbatl in that race this year and finished one place ahead of compatriot Deirdre, a filly that has won twice since and is fancied for the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.
That’s really good form and the fact she has done well on her foreign exploits before bodes well for this first run in Hong Kong. She’ll need to run much better than her last two runs back home, but if a change of scenery inspires her best she’s a big price at around the 20/1 mark.
Fellow Japanese horse Persian Knight is a big threat despite stall 14, while English-trained challengers Beat The Bank and One Master are expected to run well for Andrew Balding and William Haggas respectively.
Ben Linfoot’s 1-2-3 verdict:
2. Beauty Generation
3. Persian Knight
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (8.30 – all times GMT)
The final Hong Kong International Race on the card and this looks likely to be a fight between two Japanese raiders SUNGRAZER and Deirdre.
Japan have a fine recent record in this race thanks to wins from A Shin Hikari and Maurice in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and Sungrazer looks in a good position to continue that run.
A winner of six of his last 10 starts, he ran a cracker in the Tenno Sho last time, finishing second to Rey de Oro with Cup rival Staphanos well back in the field.
That was his first start under Joao Moreira and the three-time champion here can steer this son of Deep Impact to victory in the closing feature.
Deirdre is his biggest threat after her victory from subsequent G1 winner Lys Gracieux in the Fuchu Himba Stakes last time and she’s raced sparingly this year.
She’s shown she’s best off a break so 57 days off looks ideal for her and the daughter of Harbinger can follow Sungrazer home.
Time Warp won this race last year but has finished last on four of his last five starts and a better bet for the Trio and Quartet bets could be his full-brother Glorious Forever.
He paid the price for chasing a fierce pace last time, but things could work out better for him here and his previous consistency leads me to think he might be the one to chase the leading duo home.
Ben Linfoot’s 1-2-3 verdict:
3. Glorious Forever
More Hong Kong International Races content
- HKIR latest Day Three: Euro challenge
- HKIR latest Day Two: Beasts from the East
- HKIR latest Day One: Beauty Concerns
- HKIR full video index from Hong Kong
- Ed Dunlop takes aim at third HK Vase
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