Magical heads world class line-up selected for LONGINES HKIR
Magical is among a stellar line-up of 45 horses selected for the HK$95 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on Sunday, 13 December.
Aidan O’Brien’s superstar mare is just one of 17 G1 winners set to compete. The globetrotting daughter of Galileo is bidding to make history by becoming O’Brien’s most prolific Group 1 winner with eight top-level wins - the most of any O’Brien-trained flat horse – and she is the headliner among a brilliant contingent of 15 overseas raiders aiming at this year’s “Turf World Championships”.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty around many international racing events, the strength of the international presence in this year’s entries confirms that the Sha Tin Showpiece remains high on the agenda of international horsemen.
The LONGINES HKIR is the sport’s global year-end spectacular and features the HK$28 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), the HK$25 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m), the HK$22 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and the HK$20 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m). The Cup, Mile and Sprint are the world’s richest G1 races on turf over their respective distances.
Magical is one of five in a powerful cohort from O’Brien, and victory in the Hong Kong Cup would set her apart from fellow O’Brien-trained seven-time G1 winning champions Rock Of Gibraltar, Minding, Yeats and Highland Reel as the Irish handler’s most prolific winner at the top-level.
Also among O’Brien’s Ballydoyle brigade is G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia. Four-time G1 placegetter Lope Y Fernandez also heads for the Hong Kong Mile after a strong third in that Keeneland race, while this year’s G1 Irish 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Peaceful takes to the Cup. G1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) winner Mogul eyes the Vase and victory would give O’Brien a record-setting third win in the Vase following the heroics of Highland Reel (2015 and 2017).
The exciting fields for the four Group 1 features include big-name Japanese contenders: the six-strong squad from Japan includes last year’s Hong Kong Cup winner Win Bright, unbeaten at Sha Tin having also claimed the 2019 FWD QEII Cup, while Admire Mars returns to defend his Hong Kong Mile crown.
Also from Japan, G1 winning sprinter Tower Of London features, as does Danon Smash, who returns for a second tilt at the Hong Kong Sprint. Last year’s G1 Victoria Mile winner Normcore features in the Cup along with Danon Premium, a G1 winner as a two-year-old and runner-up to Almond Eye in last year’s G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m).
Singapore will have sole representation in the form of two-time SIN G1 winner Inferno in the Sprint. The talented speedster has won eight of his nine career starts, and his Lion City Cup (1200m) success came in race-record time (1m 8.28s), a half-second outside the course record set by dual Hong Kong Sprint winner (2007 and 2009) Sacred Kingdom in the 2009 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) at Kranji Racecourse.
France has two entries, spearheaded by last-start G1 QIPCO British Champion Stakes (1993m) runner-up Skalleti who is entered for the Cup. A 12-time winner from 16 starts for up-and-coming trainer Jerome Reynier, the five-year-old has three G2s and two G3s to his name, including a defeat of the subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) winner Sottsass at Deauville in August, while stablemate and 2019 Bahrain International Trophy (2000m) winner Royal Julius joins him but contests the Vase.
A strong Hong Kong team is headed by Golden Sixty, whose G2 Jockey Club Mile success on Sunday (22 November) made him only the fourth horse in Hong Kong racing history to win 10 consecutive races after Silent Witness, Beauty Generation and Co-Tack. Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year Exultant and dual previous Horse of the Year Beauty Generation bolster local hopes as they bid for their second and third respective wins in the Vase and the Mile, while top-level winners Waikuku and Southern Legend will also be in action.
The 2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Furore will take to the Hong Kong Cup after defeating Exultant in the G2 Jockey Club Cup, while steely grey Hot King Prawn will face off with fellow grey Classique Legend, who arrives in Hong Kong rated 125 on the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings as the joint-highest rated sprinter in the world. He has joined the Caspar Fownes yard after an impressive conquest against seven individual G1 winners in the 2020 The Everest (1200m) at Randwick Racecourse.
Mr. Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, said: “The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is firmly established among a select handful of the world’s greatest international racing occasions. To have entries of this calibre in any year would be notable but this year’s standard is remarkable given the challenge of the pandemic and all its attendant travel and quarantine issues.
“We are delighted that the quality of the selected runners for this year’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is in keeping with our long-held commitment to deliver sporting excellence and Magical’s participation is particularly exciting when you think of the significant slice of history that she could create for Aidan O’Brien.
“Exultant will look to recapture his Vase title, while the old marvel Beauty Generation adds intrigue to the Mile. Add in some top-class Japanese raiders and our leading local hope Golden Sixty and everything surely points to a thrilling afternoon of sport on 13 December.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
World superstar Magical heads to Sha Tin with a record of seven G1s from 27 starts having raced in 20 Group 1 races around the world and she will - on 13 December at Sha Tin - look to become an eight-time Group 1 winner.
The Galileo mare heads to Hong Kong’s big track off the back of a close second in the G1 LONGINES Breeders’ Cup Turf (2400m). Two starts prior to that she tallied her most recent G1 success in the G1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) at Leopardstown, where she got the better of a sustained battle with current LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Ghaiyyath.
Japan’s Win Bright returns to his favourite hunting ground as an undefeated dual G1 winner at Sha Tin after claiming Hong Kong’s Spring-Autumn G1 double: the FWD QEII Cup (2000m) and 2019 Hong Kong Cup.
Japan’s assault also features Danon Premium and Normcore, while O’Brien also fields Classic-winning filly Peaceful. Another of Europe’s leading hopes comes in the form of Skalleti, who split Addeybb and Magical for second in last month’s G1 QIPCO British Champion Stakes at Ascot.
The local brigade is boosted by an invigorated Furore. The 2019 Hong Kong Classic Mile and BMW Hong Kong Derby hero has won his last two races at G3 and G2 level, both times beating reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year (2019/20) Exultant.
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
After becoming the fourth horse in Hong Kong racing history to win 10 consecutive races, Golden Sixty will look to secure his first G1 in this year’s Hong Kong Mile, but after sweeping aside the local opposition, the son of Medaglia d’Oro faces his biggest test to date: last year’s winner, Admire Mars, who is back to defend his crown.
Beauty Generation, a two-time Mile winner, returns following a short freshen up for new trainer David Hayes, while Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien fields two: G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez, who has placed at G1 level four times, while fellow Irishman Ken Condon is represented by French G1 winner Romanised.
In addition, the local brigade features Waikuku, who returns first-up aiming to emulate former John Size galloper Glorious Days, who recorded a famous Mile success in 2013 on his first run of the season. Southern Legend who got the better over Beauty Generation in last season’s G1 FWD Champions Mile, is also included, while solid performer and G1 placegetter Ka Ying Star features.
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
A victory at Group 1 level has so far eluded Hot King Prawn, who last Sunday (22 November) claimed his second G2 Jockey Club Sprint to stamp himself as the local brigade’s leading hope. But, he will face off with another grey, Classique Legend, who has arrived in Hong Kong to join the yard of championship leader Caspar Fownes with an exceptional career outlined.
One of the most intriguing international challengers is Singapore speedster Inferno, who has lit up Kranji Racecourse with eight wins from nine starts, including two at SIN G1 level. The Holy Roman Emperor gelding travels to Hong Kong as the international sprinter with the least racing experience.
Also among the international trio of entries is Godolphin’s Tower Of London, who travels from Japan as the winner of last year’s G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama. Japan is also represented by Danon Smash, who snared second to Gran Alegria in last month’s Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama.
Among the local brigade is young gun Computer Patch, a G3 winner for trainer Tony Cruz, as well as 2019 G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) victor Rattan, who finished a fast-closing third to Hot King Prawn in last Sunday’s Jockey Club Sprint.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
Five-time G1 winner Exultant will look to recapture his Hong Kong Vase crown after letting it slip last year to Japan’s Glory Vase. Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year snared a further two G1s last term, and after proving himself as one of the world’s top stayers he will face a compact but tough line-up in his bid to reign supreme once again in December.
The O’Brien-trained Mogul was a dominant G1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) winner two starts ago beating In Swoop, who subsequently franked the form by finishing second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
French raider Royal Julius has proven himself a solid globetrotter with a win in last year’s Bahrain International Trophy (2000m) and is also a winner of Italy’s G2 Premio Presidente della Repubblica (1800m) the year prior.
Ho Ho Khan, Chefano and the highly progressive Columbus County add to the home challenge, while Playa Del Puente, the 2020 BMW Hong Kong Derby runner-up to Golden Sixty, will race beyond 2000m for the first time.
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
Magical – IRE
Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant seven-time G1 winner who holds a win over the World’s Best Racehorse Ghaiyyath three starts ago in Irish Champion Stakes.
Skalleti – FR
Top-class French performer who beat subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass in G3 at Deauville; last out second in G1 QIPCO British Champion Stakes.
Danon Premium – JPN
G1 winner at two; runner-up to Almond Eye in last year’s G1 Tenno Sho Autumn; also campaign to Australia for third in G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Win Bright – JPN
Claimed Spring-Autumn G1 double to remain unbeaten at Sha Tin with FWD QEII Cup and this race last year; returns for one last crack before possible retirement.
Furore – HK
2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby hero who has returned to best with two Pattern race wins this season, G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse and G2 Jockey Club Cup, twice beating Exultant.
Time Warp – HK
Inconsistent but tough on his day galloper; three-time G1 winner including this race in 2018 and 2020 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Normcore – JPN
2019 G1 Victoria Mile winner; third to Almond Eye in that race this year; last out faded to third last in Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
Dark Dream – HK
G1 Queensland Derby winner pre-import; two-time winner in Hong Kong and runner-up in 2019 Hong Kong Classic Cup.
Peaceful – IRE
2020 G1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner for Aidan O’Brien; well beaten last two runs including 11th in G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Dances With Dragon – HK
G1 winner in New Zealand pre-import; proven a solid performer since switching to Caspar Fownes’ yard adding four wins including G3 Premier Plate romp.
Singapore Sling – HK
Three unplaced runs in return from a near 12 month layoff with injury; 2018 Hong Kong Classic Cup winner who has placed at G1 level to Beauty Generation.
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
Beauty Generation – HK
Dual Hong Kong Mile winner who set the record for earnings in Hong Kong with HK$100 million netted; eight-time G1 winner.
Order Of Australia – IRE
Lightly raced Aidan O’Brien-trained G1 winner with three wins from eight starts; latest surprised in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at 73/1.
Golden Sixty – HK
Hong Kong’s rising star who has only tasted defeat once; swept Four-Year-Old Classic Series last season; won last 10 races including G3 Celebration Cup, G2 Sha Tin Trophy and G2 Jockey Club Mile.
Admire Mars – JPN
Three-time G1 winner who succeeded in last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile; last out grabbed third to Gran Alegria in G1 Mile Championship.
Ka Ying Star – HK
Tough on-pace galloper who has twice placed at G1 level; last two runs twice runner-up to Golden Sixty at G2 level.
Southern Legend – HK
Dual SIN G1 Kranji Mile winner who edged Beauty Generation in a thrilling FWD Champions Mile victory last season.
Waikuku – HK
Returns first-up after finishing third in April’s G1 FWD Champions Mile; prior won G1 Stewards’ Cup and did finish second to Admire Mars in this race last year.
Lope Y Fernandez – IRE
Solid contender from the Ballydoyle brigade who has placed at G1 level four times; latest third to Order Of Australia in Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.
Romanised – IRE
G1 winner in France and Ireland; won Irish 2000 Guineas; also two-time G2 winner in Ireland at The Curragh.
More Than This - HK
One-time BMW Hong Kong Derby hopeful who on the big day managed third; four-time winner who finished fifth to Southern Legend in G1 FWD Champions Mile.
Simply Brilliant – HK
Talented son of Frankel with six Hong Kong wins from 25 starts; 2019 G3 January Cup score to his name as well, finished third in 2019 FWD Champions Mile.
Mighty Giant – HK
Solid galloper with six wins including five in succession before well beaten for fourth in G2 Jockey Club Mile.
Fast Most Furious - HK
Solid five-time winner from 32 starts in HK including 10 other top three efforts; makes G1 debut.
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Classique Legend – HK
The Everest victor who beat seven individual G1 winners; a dual G2 winner in Australia who will race first-up for Caspar Fownes in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
Hot King Prawn – HK
Dual G2 Jockey Club Sprint winner who has placed three times at G1 level, including a neck defeat in last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
Big Time Baby – HK
Runner-up to Mr Stunning in last season’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize; he has proven a solid performer on both the dirt and the turf with high-class runs on both.
Voyage Warrior – HK
Five-time winner; including G2 Sprint Cup last season when beating Hot King Prawn.
Danon Smash – JPN
Finished second to Gran Alegria last start in the G1 Sprinters Stakes; dual G2 winner and four-time G3 winner prior to that.
Tower Of London – JPN
2019 G1 Sprinters Stakes winner; three-time G2 winner before that top-level success last year.
Wishful Thinker – HK
Seven-time HK winner including G2 Premier Bowl two starts ago.
Computer Patch – HK
Young gun who captured the G3 National Day Cup three starts ago before twice finishing runner-up at G2 level.
Rattan – HK
Seven-time winner including 2019 G2 Sprint Cup; last two runs have produced fast-closing third place-efforts at G2 level.
Big Party – HK
2019 (December) G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy winner who can display a strong turn-of-foot on his day.
Jolly Banner – HK
Dual G3 winner having captured the Premier Cup last season and before that the 2019 (January) G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.
Fat Turtle – HK
Two-time Class 2 winner over 1200m; twice-placed at G3 level, latest finished sixth in G2 Jockey Club Sprint.
Inferno – SIN
Singapore speedster who is a dual SIN G1 winner, latest took the Lion City Cup easily and prior, stretched to a mile to win the Singapore Guineas; won of eight of nine starts.
Perfect Match – HK
Eight-time winner from 17 starts; runner-up in G3 Premier Cup last season over 1400m; won first-up this term before fading to seventh in G2 Premier Bowl.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
Mogul – IRE
G1 Grand Prix de Paris winner ahead of subsequent Arc second In Swoop; tough O’Brien-trained stayer.
Exultant – HK
Hong Kong Horse of the Year (2019/20) with 5x G1s to his name including this race two years ago.
Chefano – HK
G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup winner over this distance; likes to roll forward but has struggled in three runs this campaign.
Ho Ho Khan – HK
Fair stayer with four HK wins to his name including G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup in 2019.
Columbus County – HK
One-time BMW Hong Kong Derby hope who has since won twice; last-start third in G2 Jockey Club Cup.
Royal Julius – FR
G2 winner in Italy who claimed the 2019 Bahrain International Trophy.
Playa Del Puente – HK
2020 BMW Hong Kong Derby runner-up who races beyond 2000m for the first time.