Inferno invited for Hong Kong Sprint

Connections feel that their G1 Singapore Guineas-Lion City Cup winner has nothing more to prove at Kranji

Singapore's latest sensation Inferno has been invited for the HK$22 million (S$3.8 million) Longines Hong Kong Sprint over 1,200m at Sha Tin on Dec 13.

The Singapore Derby-Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Top Knight, who finished third in Saturday's $1 million Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m, is a reserve for the HK$25 million Longines Hong Kong Mile.

The Sprint and Mile are two of the four annual Hong Kong International Races.

The other two are the HK$28 million Longines Hong Kong Cup over 2,000m and the HK$20 million Longines Hong Kong Vase over 2,400m.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has informed trainer Cliff Brown and Barree Stable that their application to run Inferno in the Sprint was successful.

Brown and Barree's principal owner, Glenn Whittenbury, filed the paperwork shortly after their exciting four-year-old won Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200m on Oct 25.

It was a back-to-back Group 1 victory, following his triumph in the Singapore Guineas over 1,600m - the final leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge - on Sept 26.

From his six other victories, Inferno also won the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe, the Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes, both last year, and the Group 2 Singapore Classic in August.

His only blemish was his second to Siam Warrior in a Class 3 race in late February.

His connections felt there was nothing left for Inferno to prove in his own backyard. Hence, the Hong Kong dream.

Their superstar is one of 18 overseas entries. Asia's racing powerhouse Japan filed eight strong sprinters, including four International Group 1 winners.

The host country has 17 nominations, including last year's winner Beat The Clock and Hot King Prawn, who sealed his second Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint over the same 1,200m trip at Sha Tin on Sunday.

"It's tremendous to get the invite for Inferno from the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It's a nice horse to take there and it'll also be my first participation at the Hong Kong International Races," said Brown, who has booked Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton for the ride.

Inferno is expected to depart for Hong Kong on Dec 4.

While Inferno has proven over the mile in the Singapore Guineas, Brown earmarked his new champion for the shortest of the four prestigious races.

"We only applied for the Sprint," said the Australian handler.

"We know it's a high-pressure race and the pace is always on. But that's the race for him, he deserves a shot.

"It's the other way of going, but he gallops that way on Track 6 here. He'll do the bulk of his gallops here before he goes."

Inferno will trial on Thursday.

Brown's only other international foray came with Barree Stable's former champion, Horse of the Year Debt Collector, in the Group 1 Dubai Turf over 1,800m at Meydan in 2017.

Top Knight's connections are still keeping their fingers crossed that their champion will secure a place in the Mile, which attracted 45 foreign entries.

"If invited, we will still consider going. We'll see how he comes through over the next week," said Clements, after the Gold Cup race on Saturday.