The Hong Kong Cup (Race 8) is the final International race and is run over 2000m for $3.2 Million and the Japanese dominate the market.
Defending champ A Shin Hikari went to straight to the front last year and ran everything off their feet to win in slick time. That was off the back of a disappointing run in the Tenno Sho Autumn and that is the case again this year, so expecting him to improve sharply from his defeat by Maurice last start where he was unsettled pre-race and also comes back to a right handed track. He has raced exclusively around this distance range and has won 10 from 14 starts. Expecting this Deep Impact stallion to reproduce last year’s tactics and try and run the opposition off their feet.
Maurice is a deserved favourite having won the International Mile race last year and returning here to win the Champion’s Mile in May. He has recently stepped up to 2000m and won the G1 Tenno Sho at latest defeating A Shin Hikari. Has won 5 G1’s from 6 attempts , was unbeaten in 2015 when JRA horse of the year and is unbeaten for Ryan Moore. Showed last start that he can win at 2000m, but expect this may be run at a faster tempo and that seems to be the only query on him winning this.
Japan also provide Stephanos who ran a nice third behind Maurice in the Tenno Sho at latest, while Queen’s Ring is a progressive Japanese filly who comes off Group 1 success when running home strongly in the QE 2 Cup. Hugh Bowman won the International Jockey’s Challenge on Wednesday and he takes the ride on Lovely Day who is also a dual group 1 winner.
Secret Weapon looks the pick of the locals coming off victory in the Jockey Club Cup, while stalwarts Designs On Rome, Blazing Speed and Military Attack are always capable of pulling out a big run, but their best looks in the past now.
I’m tipping Japanese domination here – Maurice on top , but Queen’s Ring looks to represent value.
Tips – 1. Maurice 2. Queen’s Ring 3. A Shin Hikari