Stellar line-up for Hong Kong's four international races
FLINTSHIRE, CIRRUS DES AIGLES, BUFFERING and SNOW DRAGON are among the Group 1 stars from seven nations and jurisdictions heading to Sha Tin on Dec 14, to compete with a stellar line-up of Hong Kong's finest at the HK$83 million ($14 million) LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR).
A total of 26 overseas raiders, including Singapore's SPALATO, and 22 international Group 1 winners are among the 51 selected horses for the Turf World Championships announced by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The LONGINES HKIR comprises the HK$25 million Hong Kong Cup (2,000m), the HK$23 million Hong Kong Mile (1,600m), the HK$18.5 million Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) and the HK$16.5 million Hong Kong Vase (2,400m).
Spalato, unbeaten in six Singapore starts, winning the domestic Group 1 Patron's Bowl and the Emirates Singapore Derby, before finishing second-last in last Sunday's Group 2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club over 1,200m, is running in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
Trainer John O'Hara's star will meet one of Australia's toughest Group 1 speedsters, Buffering, alongside European luminaries Gordon Lord Byron and Sole Power.
Japan, buoyed by the back-to-back wins of the great and now-retired Lord Kanaloa, looks to the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes one-two of Snow Dragon and Straight Girl, and the speedy Group 2 winner Little Gerda.
Flintshire brings outstanding form to the Hong Kong Vase. He is a Group 1 winner over 2,400m last year and finished second this term in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Breeders' Cup Turf and Coronation Cup.
Hong Kong Cup contender Cirrus Des Aigles is always a headline draw.
The French superstar has been in great form this year, winning three Group 1 races to take his top-flight tally to six.
"The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is one of the most lucrative and prestigious days in the horseracing calendar, and, once again, the great talents that comprise the selections for our four Group 1 races illustrate that point," said William A Nader, the HKJC's executive director of racing.