Japan five handed in search of LONGINES Hong Kong Mile success

Graham Cunningham

30/11/2023 09:30

The times they are a changing ahead of the 2023 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

Golden Sixty came up just short behind California Spangle in his bid for a third consecutive win last year. Father Time is tugging at the old champ’s tail now that he’s turned eight. And Hong Kong’s three-time Horse of the Year will be part of a full field of 14 for the first time since his BMW Hong Kong Derby win of 2020 on 10 December.

Cairo and Tribalist travel from Ireland and France, while Lim’s Kosciuszko represents Singapore and a five-strong Japanese contingent includes three international G1 winners.

Ratings suggest that last year’s principals have the edge again. But this is a different race on a different day. And this year’s visitors won’t be slow to capitalise if Sixty and the Spangle dip below their very best.

Maurice wins the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile for Japan in 2015
Maurice wins the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile for Japan in 2015

Danon The Kid (Takayuki Yasuda)

International Rating – 118

Won a G1 in 2020 but has been beaten in nine more since, including when left trailing twice by Romantic Warrior at Sha Tin. Has run well in the last two editions of the Mile Championship at Hanshin and Kyoto but has work to do to reverse form with Namur and Soul Rush based on his never -nearer fifth in the latest edition.


Serifos (Mitsumasa Nakauchida)

International Rating – 118

A fixture in Japan’s best mile races, this four-year-old produced a withering run to beat Danon The Kid and Soul Rush in last year’s Mile Championship and came home strongly to chase home Songline in the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo in June. A fast pace would suit for his first HKIR appearance.


Soul Rush (Yasutoshi Ikee)

International Rating – 118

Yet to win a G1 but travels in fine form after winning a G2 in game fashion and going down by a neck in Namur’s Mile Championship. Travelled sweetly and quickened well under Joao Moreira until worn down late at Kyoto and that 118 rating – which he ran to just a couple of weeks ago – gives him brighter prospects than most.


Namur (Tomokazu Takano)

International Rating – 115

Jockey changes have been a feature of this filly’s autumn revival. Moreira partnered her to a narrow win in a Tokyo G2 in October. Ryan Moore was booked for the Mile Championship only to miss out due to an earlier fall. And Kota Fujioka deputised in style by bringing the Harbinger filly with a dramatic charge from the rear to lead close home. That first G1 success was gained from stall 16 of 16 and patient tactics seem important to her.


Tribalist (Andre Fabre)

International Rating – 116

Carefully managed by Andre Fabre this year, winning four of five below G1 level and giving weight and a courageous beating to useful rivals on deep ground at Saint-Cloud in November. A regular front runner, he looks likely to keep California Spangle company early on. But whether he can accelerate on much faster ground than he has been used to remains to be seen.


Lim’s Kosciuszko (Dan Meagher)

International Rating – 112

Has carved himself a place in Singapore racing history with multiple major wins over various distances in recent years and extended his dominance into new territory this year by winning the Singapore Gold Cup over 2000m. But this hugely popular gelding trailed home last in Wellington’s Hong Kong Sprint last year and this looks another daunting task.


Cairo (Aidan O’Brien)

International Rating – 112

Earned his rating by chasing home star stablemate Paddington in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh in May but has only run once since and didn’t hit the same level when third at Leopardstown in October. Aidan’s best result from eight Mile runners was Mother Earth’s fourth behind Golden Sixty in 2021. This colt will do well to match that.


Divina (Yasuo Tomomichi)

International Rating – 112

Bids to emulate her sire Maurice, who won the Mile in 2015, and ran with credit in several good races before landing a G2 by a nose at Tokyo in October. Perhaps the step up to 2200m was less than ideal when she finished seventh in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto recently. Either way, a rating of 112, even with her sex allowance, means improvement is needed.

Graham Cunningham

Graham Cunningham chose a career in racing ahead of the law thirty years ago and has never regretted it for a moment.

Nine years with the world-renowned Timeform organization paved the way for a lengthy spell as a reporter and columnist in various newspapers, starting with the Sporting Life and followed by the Racing Post and the London Evening Standard.

Graham also spent a more than a decade on television in the UK as a lead analyst for Racing UK and Channel 4 but moved to Hong Kong early in 2017 and was once employed as Senior Racing Media Content Specialist for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

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