Hong Kong’s three Group 1 spring majors have attracted 38 international G1 winners among 111 horses from 10 nations and jurisdictions. The HK$20 million G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) will take place at Sha Tin racecourse on 30 April, and the HK$16 million G1 Champions Mile (1600m) and HK$14 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) will be staged seven days later on 7 May.
Two of the three winners of last year’s spring features – QEII Cup winner Werther and Chairman’s Sprint Prize victor Chautauqua – are entered to defend their titles, while three of December’s four Hong Kong International Races winners – Hong Kong Sprint hero Aerovelocity, Hong Kong Mile scorer Beauty Only and Satono Crown, who took the Hong Kong Vase for Japan – are among the nominations.
Mr. Anthony Kelly, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing Business and Operations, said: “We are excited by the calibre of elite horses among entries for our three spring features here in Hong Kong. All three races are firmly entrenched in the world’s top 100 Group 1 races and bring together a mix of stars from Hong Kong and around the world.
“With Werther set to defend his Audemars Piguet QEII Cup crown and Chautauqua entered once more for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, the eyes of the racing world will be on Sha Tin over two memorable weekends in April and May.”
Audemars Piguet QEII Cup
Last year’s dominant Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Werther headlines a total of 51 high-class gallopers among the entries, 20 of them G1 winners.
Three past QEII Cup winners are among the Hong Kong contingent, with Designs On Rome (2014) and Blazing Speed (2015) also engaged. Pakistan Star and Beauty Generation, second and third behind Rapper Dragon in the BMW Hong Kong Derby, are among the new crop of four-year-olds hoping to taste QEII Cup success, along with G1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) winner Helene Charisma and G1 Queensland Derby (2400m) victor Eagle Way.
Werther’s John Moore-trained stablemate Rapper Dragon, the first horse to complete a clean sweep of Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series, is also among the entries although he also holds a ticket to the G1 Champions Mile one week later.
The talented local contingent is likely to face a strong visiting party, with G1 winners entered from across the globe.
Japan struck gold twice at December’s Hong Kong International Races and looks set to play a big role again, with last year’s G1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner Satono Crown prominent in the entries. Also engaged is G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) winner Real Steel, 2015 QEII Cup runner-up Staphanos and G2 winners Neorealism, Yamakatsu Ace and Admire Deus.
G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) winner Jameka and G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) victor Hartnell lead a strong group of Australian entries for the HK$20 million feature. Hartnell is one of two G1 winners put forward by Godolphin’s Australian arm, with G1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) winner Hauraki entered in both the QEII Cup and the Champions Mile by trainer John O’Shea. The United States, winner of the 2016 G1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m), and 2016 G1 Australian Derby (2400m) winner Tavago are also prominent, while joining their number are two New Zealand G1 winners – Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) winner Volkstok’n’barrell and Haunui Farm Classic (1600m) victor Kawi.
G1 Arlington Million (2000m) winner Mondialiste is at the head of a European contingent that also contains two Ballydoyle big guns, three-time G1 scorer Alice Springs and G1 Belmont Derby (2000m) winner Deauville – both Mondialiste and Alice Springs are also cross-entered for the Champions Mile. G1 Ascot Gold Cup (4000m) winner Trip To Paris is also among nominations, while Classic-placed Zarak and Cloth Of Stars and G1-placed Mutakayyef are others who hold entries.
Two-time QEII Cup-winning trainer Mike de Kock is represented by 2016 G1 Dubai World Cup (2000m) runner-up Mubtaahij.
Hong Kong’s newest star, Rapper Dragon, made history when winning the BMW Hong Kong Derby on 19 March to become the first horse to win all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series. The exciting gelding could lead the local charge in this year’s G1 Champions Mile on 7 May, which has attracted 43 entries, including 18 G1 winners.
International competitors have lifted the trophy twice, with South African star Variety Club breaking new ground in 2014 before Japanese champion Maurice saluted in 2016, the second of three G1s he would win at Sha Tin.
Former Hong Kong trainee Redkirk Warrior, a recent winner of the G1 Newmarket Handicap (1600m), could return to Sha Tin.
Also from Australia, G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m)winner Palentino, G1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) victor He’s Our Rokkii and three-time G1 scorer Le Romain could attempt to give the nation its first Champions Miletriumph.
Hong Kong’s nominations also include four G1 winners – G1 Hong Kong Mile hero Beauty Only, two-time G1 winner Helene Paragon, G1 Stewards’ Cup victor Giant Treasure and G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup scorer Contentment.
Chairman’s Sprint Prize
The G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize provided a memorable first running at international G1 level last year, and the 7 May contest looks set to be another stellar race with 47 classy entries, including 12 G1 winners.
After Chautauqua’s heroic last-to-first victory last in 2016, he is entered to attempt back-to-back wins in Hong Kong’s newest G1, the fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. Joining him among Australia’s entries are G1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) winner Rebel Dane and G1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) scorer Sheidel, while G1 NRM Sprint (1400m) victor Start Wondering could represent New Zealand.
Henry Candy’s G1 July Cup (1200m) winner Limato is one of a number of intriguing entries from Europe, that also includes G1 Prix Maurice De Gheest (1300m) scorer Signs Of Blessing and Wild Dude, now based in Ireland but a G1 winner from his time in the United States. Signs Of Blessing was a strong-finishing fifth in the G1 Hong Kong Sprint at the course and distance in December.
Sprinters’ Stakes winner Red Falx and 2015 G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) winner Let's Go Donki, who is also entered for the Champions Mile, are among six entries from Japan.
On the local front, Aerovelocity and Peniaphobia, who have won the last three editions of the G1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) between them, lead Hong Kong’s team for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize. They are joined by last year’s place-getters Lucky Bubbles and Strathmore, as well as G2 winners Amazing Kids and Not Listenin’tome and rising star Mr Stunning.
Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, Champions Mile & Chairman's Sprint Prize – Entries
Audemars Piguet QEII Cup
Chairman's Sprint Prize
Last year��s Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Werther has been entered to defend his title.
2016 Chairman��s Sprint Prize victor Chautauqua is among the six entries from Australia in this year��s G1 Sprint event.