Geraldina ready to shine in Hong Kong

Naohiro Goda

28/04/2023 10:30

Geraldina is a well-bred mare.
Geraldina is a well-bred mare.

Although the date of G1 FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin is ideal for top older milers in Japan, as it is five weeks before G1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo, the championship race for milers in first half of season, Japanese horse connections are afraid about meeting with Golden Sixty and California Spangle, who are ranked second and sixth in the latest edition of LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR), and consequently the field of this year’s Champions Mile doesn’t have a Japanese-trained runner. It is understandable.

Japanese horse connections respect Romantic Warrior and Lucky Sweynesse, who are ranked joint fourth in the WBRR respectively, though, and Japanese owners and trainers are not afraid about running against them at Sha Tin on 30 April and are sending five horses in total in two races – the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) and G1 Chairman Sprint Prize (1200m).

Among three Japanese-trained runners in the G1 FWD QEII Cup, which carries total purse of HK$25 million, the most interesting presence for me is Geraldina.

Geraldina wins the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hanshin.

I understand I don’t need to explain about her sire, Maurice, to horse racing fans in Hong Kong, as he is a winner of G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile in 2015, G1 Champions Mile in 2016 and G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup in 2016. Maurice loved Hong Kong, which was his second home.

While this is first trip to Hong Kong for the five-year-old mare Geraldina trained by Takashi Saito at Ritto Training Center, I am pretty sure that she is enjoying the climate at Hong Kong and is handling the track at Sha Tin well.

I assess Geraldina, who won G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hanshin on 13 November for Sunday Racing, and finished third in G1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama on 25 December, as a better horse than Win Marilyn, who was beaten second in G1 Queen Elizabeth Cup and subsequently won G1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on 11 December. 

Though she was beaten sixth in G1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin on 2 April, the tempo of race was favorable one for front runner and runners who tracked leaders closely, and wasn’t suitable for closers, such as Geraldina. And it was first start for her since December and she might need the run to regain her top form.

Geraldina ran sixth in the G1 Osaka Hai.

Since Osaka Hai, Geraldina has been trained beautifully and sharply. Before shipping to Hong Kong, Geraldina was breezed for six furlongs at Woodchips Course in Ritto Training Center on Wednesday (19 April), and clocked 86.7 seconds. She covered the final 200m in 11.2 seconds and Takashi Saito was happy to see Geraldina responded well at crucial part of the workout.

It is encouraging factor for Japanese punters that Christian Demuro, the Italian Jockey who rode Geraldina in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Cup and G1 Arima Kinen, is booked for her in FWD QEII Cup.While I understand Romantic Warrior and Dubai Honour, who is representing Great Britain in the QEII Cup, are strong opponents, I expect Geraldina to become the seventh Japanese winner of the feature race on FWD Champions Day.

Danon The Kid, who finished second in G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup on 11 December, has proven that Sha Tin is his favorite track.

Prognosis, who won G2 Kinko Sho at Chukyo on 12 March, is now improving rapidly. Aguri, the solo Japanese runner in Chairman’s Sprint Prize, finished a disappointing seventh in G1Takamatsunomiya Kine last time out, but it was obvious that he disliked heavy track on the day.

The three feature races on FWD Kong Champions Day are shown on Green Channel in Japan and I look forward to joining the live show from Sha Tin Racecourse as a broadcaster.

Naohiro Goda

Naohiro is a leading journalist and commentator in Japan with regular television shows on networks such as NHK Network and Green Channel. He is a regular contributor for newspapers, magazines and websites including Sports Nippon, Weekly Gallop, and He also operates a bloodstock business marketing firm. Naohiro is a frequent international racing traveler and a regular visitor to the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin.

Featured Articles