by Dustin Fabian
December 6, 2018
At Xpressbet, we’re excited to announce that Hong Kong racing is back…and just in time for the prestigious Hong Kong International Races! You can once again bet every card from Sha Tin and Happy Valley from the comfort and convenience of your Xpressbet account.
The Hong Kong International Races are one of the most anticipated evenings of racing in Hong Kong. International raiders take on top local horses for more than HK$90 million in purses across four top races.
If you’ll be betting the HKIR with Xpressbet, here are some things you should know –
With that out of the way, here are some picks and previews!
Race 4 (1:00AM ET) - Hong Kong Vase (Group 1 - HK$20 Million)
1 1/2 Miles (Turf) – Right-Handed Course
Best Bet: EAGLE WAY (HK)
This isn’t the best ‘Vase field ever so let’s take a shot with a local horse who is in top form. EAGLE WAY won the Group 2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup on November 18 and he’ll be flying late. A solid pace is a must, however.
Other Top Contenders: LYS GRACIEUX (JPN), PAKISTAN STAR (HK), EXULTANT (HK)
LYS GRACIEUX is an improving filly and just notched her first Group 1 win in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto in November. That big effort should set her up for another one Saturday night. Both PAKISTAN STAR and EXULTANT have been unable to find their top form this meet and will need to turn things around to factor.
European Appeal: WALDGEIST (FR), SALOUEN (GB), MIRAGE DANCER (GB), RED VERDON (GB), PRINCE OF ARRAN (GB), EZIYRA (IRE), LATROBE (IRE), ROSTROPOVICH (IRE)
Europe has performed phenomenally in this race, having won 19-of-24 with the likes of Flintshire, Ouija Board, Highland Reel and Doctor Dino. Unfortunately, none of this year’s entrants appears to be on that level.
WALDGEIST won the Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp against Talismanic, but disappointing efforts in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe (4th) and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf (5th) leave more questions than answers and he’s going to be hard to trust. EZIYRA won the Group 2 Blandford Stakes in September but was a non-factor when 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. LATROBE and ROSTOPOVICH were the 1-2 finishers in the Group 1 Irish Derby in June but they’re a combined 1-for-7 since.
Race 5 (1:40AM ET) - Hong Kong Sprint (Group 1 – HK$20 Million)
6 Furlongs (Turf) – Right-Handed Course
Best Bet: HOT KING PRAWN (HK)
I have a soft spot for in-form sprinters and that’s exactly what you get with HOT KING PRAWN. He’s 9-for-10 in his career and he’s rocketing through the ranks, with a pair of Group 2 victories since late-October. He beat MR STUNNING in the Jockey Club Sprint last out.
Other Top Contenders: MR STUNNING (HK), IVICTORY (HK), D B PIN (HK), FINE NEEDLE (JPN)
Local horses have won the last four editions (and 14-of-19 overall) and the ‘home team’ is stacked in 2018. IVICTORY was Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter last year and MR STUNNING won this race last December. Of the two, MR STUNNING seems to be rounding back into form better. D B PIN was runner upu in 2017 but has raced just once since January.
Japan, which won this race in 2012 & 2013 with Lord Kanaloa, is represented by FINE NEEDLE, who won the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes last out. He would not be a shock.
European Appeal: SIR DANCEALOT (GB)
Europe has never won this race and the lone European entrant, SIR DANCELAOT, appears unlikely to reverse that trend. He’s had a long campaign (11 starts) and he hasn’t finished in the top three since August.
Race 7 (2:50AM ET) - Hong Kong Mile (Group 1 - HK$25 Million)
1 Mile (Turf) – Right-Handed Course
Best Bet: BEAUTY GENERATION (HK)
Forget just this race – to many of us betting the races, the likeliest winner of the entire HKIR will be BEAUTY GENERATION in the Mile. He won this race last year by a length and I think he’s better now. He’s won three races this season, and he set a new track record in the Group 2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile on November 18. If he runs his race, he’ll be tough to deny. Worth noting, however, that favorites are just 2-for-17 since 2001.
Other Top Contenders: PERSIAN KNIGHT (JPN), SINGAPORE SLING (HK), SOUTHERN LEGEND (HK), MOZU ASCOT (JPN)
Japan is well-represented with PERSIAN KNIGHT and MOZU ASCOT. MOZU ASCOT finished 13th as the beaten favorite in the Group 1 Mile Championship last out, but he did win the prestigious Group 1 Yasuda Kinen in June. PERIAN KNIGHT nearly won the Mile Championship.
Hong Kong has won this race in 12-of-13 years, so the ‘other’ locals deserve a long look. SINGAPORE SLING is well-backed each time out but isn’t on BEAUTY GENERATION’s level. SOUTHERN LEGEND won a Group 1 race in Singapore in May and is 5-for-15 in Hong Kong. He was second to BEAUTY GENERATION in the Jockey Club Mile last out.
European Appeal: BEAT THE BANK, INNS OF COURT, ONE MASTER
Europe hasn’t claimed this race since 1999 and that streak should continue in 2018. ONE MASTER was a shocking 43/1 winner in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October and was an OK fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Andre Fabre’s INNS OF COURT was second to ONE MASTER in the ‘Foret but he has never won above a Group 3 level. Britain’s BEAT THE BANK is the top ranked European. He won the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot in July and also the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August.
Race 8 (3:30AM ET) - Hong Kong Cup (Group 1 – HK$28 Million)
1 1/4 Miles (Turf) – Right-Handed Course
Best Bet: Deidre (JPN)
‘Cup winners have come from all over. Since 2000, this race has won in equal parts by horses representing Hong Kong (7 times), Japan (3 times), Great Britain (2 times), France (2 times), the UAE (2 times), Ireland (once) and South Africa (once).
Why not take a shot with the 4YO Japanese filly, Deidre? She raced admirably in Dubai in March and has won a Group 2 and Group 3 in Japan since coming back off the layoff. She should be ready to run a big race here against a field that isn’t formidable.
Other Top Contenders: SUNGRAZER (JPN), TIME WARP (HK)
Defending champ TIME WARP isn’t in the same form he brought into this race last year so there are plenty of questions there. Last out he tired to finish 9th in the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup, a race he was barely beaten in last year. Japan’s SUNGRAZER has been in solid form in Japan and is 7-for-13
European Appeal: STORMY ANTARCTIC (GB)
He has actually maintained a strong campaign and he would not be a shock here, despite his lack of marquee wins. He took the Group 2 Badener Mile in Germany in May and finished 3rd in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in September. His last race, a close-up 4th behind Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, sets him up well.