A world class array of Group 1 stars will go to war in Hong Kong for horseracing’s annual year-end major, the HK$83 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, on Sunday, 11 December. There are 26 G1 winners among the 56 selected runners, including all four of last year’s champions: Japan’s outstanding Maurice and the mercurial yet brilliant A Shin Hikari, Ireland’s remarkable Highland Reel, and Hong Kong’s own Peniaphobia.
The LONGINES HKIR comprises the HK$25 million LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), the HK$23 million LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m), the HK$18.5 million LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and the HK$16.5 million LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m). With 28 overseas runners and 28 Hong Kong representatives, horses from nine international jurisdictions are set to compete at this year’s Turf World Championships.
Maurice won an epic edition of last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and will return this time to attempt a rare LONGINES HKIR double, with victory in what is shaping to be a stellar edition of the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m). Jim And Tonic took the same route in 1998 and 1999 and is the only horse to have achieved victory in two different HKIR contests.
Japan’s 2015 Horse of the Year is two from two at Sha Tin, having carried off the G1 Champions Mile in May. Trainer Noriyuki Hori’s superstar bounced back from two excusable defeats to slam a top-class field in October’s G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) - a fifth G1 triumph and first win at 2000m.
Maurice is set to lead a record 13-strong Japanese contingent at the LONGINES HKIR and is one of 10 G1 winners among the 14 selected runners for the Cup. A Shin Hikari dominated last year’s race with a stunning front-running display and topped the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings this spring after a wide margin victory in France’s G1 Prix d’Ispahan. Japan’s strong hand in the race also includes the JRA’s 2015 2000m champion Lovely Day, recent G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2200m) winner Queens Ring, and the high-class Staphanos.
France’s standout trainer Andre Fabre will seek a third HKIR win with Elliptique, while Germany’s Potemkin, a G1 winner, too, is another European challenger for the event’s showcase race. Four-time G1 winner Designs On Rome took the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup for Hong Kong in 2014 and will lead the local challenge.
Able Friend is one of 14 selected for the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile. John Moore’s stable star was imperious in winning the 2014 edition but Maurice was a shade too good for him in 2015. After returning from injury, he aims to become the first horse to regain the Mile title. Set against him are two Japanese stars, both defeaters of Maurice this year. Three-time G1 winner Logotype surprised Japan’s champ in June’s G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m), while Neorealism, an unlucky third in the recent G1 Mile Championship, beat Maurice in August’s G2 Sapporo Kinen (2000m). Another Japanese raider is Satono Aladdin, a good fifth in the G1 Mile Championship at Kyoto last time. Aidan O’Brien’s smart Cougar Mountain is engaged for Ireland.
Hong Kong’s challengers for the Mile also feature G1 winners Contentment, Giant Treasure and Romantic Touch, as well as recent G2 Jockey Club Mile hero Beauty Only, last season’s champion miler Sun Jewellery and the exciting rising star Helene Paragon.
This year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (14 selected) is shaping to be an epic. The home team is packed with talent, Japan’s big two are set to face off, Australia and North America are represented and the Europeans are sending three of their best.
Big Arthur looked to be the heir to two-time Hong Kong Sprint winner Lord Kanaloa’s weighty crown when winning the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) in March. The five-year-old encountered traffic problems in the second of Japan’s two G1 sprints, the Sprinters Stakes (2 October), as Red Falx powered wide on the track for a breakthrough victory. The pair heads to Sha Tin to decide championship honours.
Aerovelocity won the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint in 2014 and, after missing last year’s race, will aim to emulate former world champion sprinter Sacred Kingdom (2007 & 2009), the only horse to date to have regained the Hong Kong Sprint title. He will face familiar foes in last year’s winner Peniaphobia, recent G2 Jockey Club Sprint winner Not Listenin’tome and the rising star of the Hong Kong sprinting ranks, last season’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) runner-up, Lucky Bubbles.
France’s Signs Of Blessing won the G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest (1300m) in August, while Profitable, from England, landed the G1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot. Growl, also from the UK, was runner-up in the G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in October; America’s Pure Sensation was a close 3rd in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last time; Rebel Dane, the recent G1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) winner, will attempt to end a 15-year wait for a second Australian-trained victor.
Meanwhile, Highland Reel is heading back to Sha Tin in an attempt to become the third dual winner of the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase in the race’s 22-year history (Luso, 1996 & 1997; Doctor Dino, 2007 & 2008). The four-year-old cut his own slice of history in 2015 when he provided Ireland’s champion trainer O’Brien with a first success in Hong Kong.
Highland Reel is perhaps the world’s most widely-travelled top-class racehorse of recent times, and certainly the most successful globe-trotter currently in action. The Galileo colt has contested 14 G1s in seven international jurisdictions since May, 2015, winning four (Breeders’ Cup Turf; King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes; LONGINES Hong Kong Vase; Secretariat Stakes), as well as placing second in October’s G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The Irish star is slated to face 13 others in the Vase this time, including the UK’s popular stayer Big Orange; from Japan the 2014 Oaks winner Nuovo Record - runner-up in last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Cup - and the classy Smart Layer; New Zealand’s G2 Brisbane Cup hero Benzini; and a talented quartet from France, featuring two-time G1 victor Erupt, G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Silverwave, and the G2 winners Garlingari and One Foot In Heaven - the last-named’s dam, Pride, won the Hong Kong Cup in 2006.
Mr. Anthony Kelly, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing Business and Operations, said: “Last year, the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races more than lived up to its reputation as a showcase for exceptional talent. The occasion produced four stunning races, with each winner a world-calibre Group 1 star. In keeping with the event’s tradition of excellence, we are pleased to see the depth of quality to the selected runners for the 2016 races.
“All four of the 2015 champions are set to compete again and the home team will have its work cut out to better the one win achieved last time around. It is particularly exciting to see Maurice’s connections sportingly opting to take on the challenge of the Cup rather than the Mile this time. Add to the mix the rematch between Japan’s Big Arthur and Red Falx, the return of Able Friend, the continuing exploits of Highland Reel, and an altogether world class line-up of challengers primed for competition, and it’s safe to say we are in for a year-end treat on 11 December. The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is global horseracing at its best.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
A SHIN HIKARI - JPN
Won last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup and topped the LONGINES WBBR in the spring after a 10L win in the G1 Prix d’Ispahan.
ELLIPTIQUE – FR
Career peak win in the G1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis - Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in July.
LOVELY DAY - JPN
JRA’s 2000m champion in 2015 with G1 wins in the Takarazuka Kinen and Tenno Sho (Autumn).
MAURICE – JPN
Japan’s Horse of the Year and G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile victor in 2015; notched fifth G1 win and first at 2000m in recent Tenno Sho (Autumn).
POTEMKIN – GER
On a hat-trick after clinching breakthrough G1 win in Premio Roma last start.
QUEENS RING - JPN
Made it three wins for the season with first G1 success in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto on 13 November.
STAPHANOS - JPN
Yet to notch at highest level but 2nd at course and distance in G1 AP QEII Cup in April, 2015; 3rd to Maurice in G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) last start.
BLAZING SPEED - HK
Two-time G1 winner including at the course and distance in 2015 QEII Cup; 3rd in last year’s Hong Kong Cup.
DESIGNS ON ROME – HK
Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year and LONGINES Hong Kong Cup hero in 2014; a four-time G1 winner.
GUN PIT - HK
Beaten just more than two lengths in G2 Jockey Club Mile latest; second in G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (2000m, dirt) at Meydan in March.
HELENE SUPER STAR - HK
Career best effort to win G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) in May, 2015.
HORSE OF FORTUNE - HK
Listed winner in South Africa and five-time victor in Hong Kong; career peak last start in G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse at Sha Tin.
MILITARY ATTACK - HK
Two-time G1 winner and Hong Kong’s 2013 Horse of the Year. Runner-up in 2014 Hong Kong Cup and 3rd in G2 Jockey Club Cup latest.
SECRET WEAPON – HK
Smart performer with a six from 19 record in Hong Kong; caused a minor shock when winning the G2 Jockey Club Cup last start.
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
COUGAR MOUNTAIN - IRE
Third to Solow in the 2015 G1 Queen Anne Stakes and landed the G2 Joel Stakes over a mile at Newmarket in September.
LOGOTYPE – JPN
Three-time G1 winner, the latest a surprise defeat of Maurice in June’s Yasuda Kinen after a three-year winless streak.
NEOREALISM – JPN
Saw off a ring rusty Maurice to win the G2 Sapporo Kinen (2000m) in August and luckless 3rd when impeded in G1 Mile Championship at Kyoto latest.
SATONO ALADDIN - JPN
Won a pair of 1400m G2 contests this season and not far away in mile G1s - 4th in Yasuda Kinen and 5th in recent Mile Championship at Kyoto.
ABLE FRIEND – HK
A four-time G1 winner including an imperious success in this race in 2014; returned from injury with promising 4th in G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) latest.
BEAUTY FLAME - HK
Caused a shock when defeating Able Friend in G2 Jockey Club Mile last season; a three-time G1 runner-up.
BEAUTY ONLY – HK
Won HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile in 2015; flashed late to nick deserved win in G2 Jockey Club Mile latest.
CONTENTMENT - HK
Nine from 22 record in Hong Kong includes G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) last February; best effort this term when 4th latest in G2 Jockey Club Mile.
GIANT TREASURE - HK
Split Maurice and Able Friend to run 2nd in last year’s Hong Kong Mile; followed up with breakthrough G1 win in January’s Stewards’ Cup.
HELENE PARAGON - HK
Third in G1 Prix Jean Prat pre-import; holds 1800m track record at Sha Tin and unlucky in defeat when checked in G2 Jockey Club Mile latest.
JOYFUL TRINITY - HK
An emerging talent; G3 winner in France and Hong Kong, latterly in October’s G3 Celebration Cup.
PACKING PINS - HK
Six-time winner rose from a Class 4 handicap success on debut in October 2014 to finish 3rd behind Maurice in last May’s G1 Champions Mile.
ROMANTIC TOUCH - HK
Won G1 J. J. Atkins Stakes as a juvenile in Australia; short-headed into 2nd behind Beauty Only in the G2 Jockey Club Mile on 20 November.
SUN JEWELLERY - HK
Seven wins from 11 starts in Hong Kong including two legs of the 4YO Classic Series last term to clinch Champion Miler title; smart 3rd latest in G2 Jockey Club Mile.
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
BIG ARTHUR – JPN
Impressive G1 breakthrough in Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) in March; found no running in luckless G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) defeat latest.
GROWL - UK
Placed 2nd in G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes (1200m) in October; won 1200m Listed race at Doncaster latest.
PROFITABLE – UK
Started the year with a hat-trick of Pattern race wins, culminating in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot.
PURE SENSATION - USA
A three-time G3 winner (1000m and 1200m) and a close 3rd in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (1300m) at Santa Anita last time.
REBEL DANE – AUS
Two-time G1 winner, most recently in the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in October.
RED FALX - JPN
Smart dirt track winner that switched to turf for G3 win in July and stormed through a wide run to claim the G1 Sprinters Stakes latest.
SIGNS OF BLESSING – FR
Talented sprinter earned a G1 breakthrough in Prix Maurice de Gheest (1300m) this past August, that after a close 3rd in G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m).
AEROVELOCITY - HK
The only Hong Kong horse with G1 wins in three international jurisdictions; won 2014 Hong Kong Sprint and promising 3rd in G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) last start.
AMAZING KIDS - HK
Emerging talent with 5 wins from 15 Hong Kong starts; luckless 5th in G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) last May and won G3 National Day Cup (1000m) this term.
LUCKY BUBBLES – HK
Rising star of local sprint ranks; close 2nd to Chautauqua in G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize in May, won G2 Premier Bowl and ran on for 2nd in G2 Jockey Club Sprint latest.
NOT LISTENIN’TOME – HK
Twice G1-placed in Australia and 3rd in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint; won the G2 Jockey Club Sprint at course and distance latest.
PENIAPHOBIA - HK
All-the-way winner of Hong Kong Sprint last year after placing second in 2014; placed in G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) in 2015 and 2016.
STRATHMORE - HK
Promised plenty last season and ran 3rd in G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize; still looking for Pattern breakthrough but smart sixth first-up in G2 Jockey Club Sprint last time.
SUPER JOCKEY - HK
Top-class dirt runner - 2nd in 2015 G1 Golden Shaheen at Meydan; only start this term an easy win in KOR G1 Korea Sprint on Seoul’s sand; has some smart form on turf.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
BENZINI - NZ
Won G2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm in June and runner-up in G1 Livamol Classic (2000m) in 2015.
BIG ORANGE - UK
High-class stayer with four G2 wins at 2400m and 3200m; fifth in 2015 G1 Melbourne Cup - only 10th this year - and smart 3rd in recent G2 Zipping Classic (2400m).
ERUPT – FR
Won G1 Grand Prix de Paris in 2015 and fair efforts in G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and G1 Japan Cup; solid form this term and won G1 Canadian International last time.
GARLINGARI - FR
Won G2 Prix d’Harcourt in May and consistent in high grades since; 3rd in G1 Prix Ganay and 2L 5th to Silverwave in G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
HIGHLAND REEL – IRE
Much-travelled four-time G1 winner including this race last year; added King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf to his haul this season.
ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN – FR
Two-time G2 winner - solid 6th in G1 Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe in October and followed with win in G2 Prix du Conseil de Paris (2400m); his dam, Pride, won the 2006 Hong Kong Cup.
SATONO CROWN - JPN
Four wins from 10 career starts, latest in February’s G2 Kyoto Kinen (2200m); 3rd to Duramente in 2015 G1 Japanese Derby only previous attempt at 2400m.
SMART LAYER - JPN
Winner of eight from 22; two-time winner of G2 Sankei Sports Hai
Hanshin Himba Stakes (1600m) - defeated 2014 Oaks winner Mikki Queen this year.
SILVERWAVE – FR
Defeated Erupt to take G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July and added G2 Prix Foy in September.
NUOVO RECORD - JPN
Won 2014 G1 Japanese Oaks and runner-up to A Shin Hikari in last year’s G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
ANTICIPATION - HK
Won mile Listed race for Aidan O’Brien pre-import; one win from 24 local starts came in 1800m handicap in October; fair 7th in G2 Jockey Club Cup latest.
EASTERN EXPRESS – HK
Three wins (1400m to 2000m) from 13 starts and 3rd in HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) in February; solid 6th latest in G2 Jockey Club Cup.
HELENE HAPPY STAR - HK
Won HKG3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap at course and distance in May, 2015; good front-running effort when 4th in G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) latest.
FLAME HERO - HK
Seven Hong Kong wins including last season’s HKG3 January Cup Handicap (1800m); smart second in G2 Jockey Club Cup last time.
A SHIN HIKARI - JPN
ELLIPTIQUE �V FR
MAURICE �V JPN
POTEMKIN �V GER
DESIGNS ON ROME �V HK
SECRET WEAPON �V HK
LOGOTYPE �V JPN
NEOREALISM �V JPN
ABLE FRIEND �V HK
BEAUTY ONLY �V HK
BIG ARTHUR �V JPN
PROFITABLE �V UK
REBEL DANE �V AUS
SIGNS OF BLESSING �V FR
LUCKY BUBBLES �V HK
NOT LISTENIN��TOME �V HK
ERUPT �V FR
HIGHLAND REEL �V IRE
ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN �V FR
SILVERWAVE �V FR
EASTERN EXPRESS �V HK