The locals have an impeccable record in this race - winning seven of the last 10 runnings, with two wins from Japan, and one from UAE/Godolphin. Apart from two French placegetters last year, it's not much different on the lower steps of the 'podium'. Best form race is The Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Mile from three weeks ago, here's the result and replay.
Cityscape: Highest-rated horse in the field yet he hasn't won a G1. That rating was achieved in running third to Canford Cliffs and Goldikova at Royal Ascot, and again in a G3 at St Cloud, beating a field who, apart from one runner, I've never heard of. Not convinced on him.
Jimmy Choux: New Zealand's superstar who looked to have the Cox Plate won until Pinker Pinker emerged after the softest run you'd ever find. Then ran a close 4th in the G1 Emirates Stakes (handicap), carrying 58kg giving away at least 4kg to all the placegetters. Boxed on his own at the racetrack, so he's been given a mirro to think there are other horses there and listens to an iPod, I kid you not. Trainer believes he is best at the mile, will go damn close.
Rajsaman: dead-heated for fourh here last year as a 3yo. Has won a couple of G2s in France since, narrowly beating Rio De La Plata last time (who I don't rate that highly) and Byword (who I do rate, but received 3kg that day) back in May. In with a chance, will be much bigger odds with Aussie bookies than in the UK.
Beauty Flash: won this race last year. Best when he gets an easy lead, and doesn't appear to be much pace in this edition. Ran fourth in Champions Mile in April, beaten under a length by Xtension after drawing out in the car park. Strong form through local stars Ambitious Dragon and Destined For Glory, has G.Mosse on board, big chance.
Xtension: Former British horse, was trained by Clive Cox. Ran 4th in the 2000 Guineas last year, just behind Dick Turpin and Canford Cliffs. Won Champions Mile in April, flew home last start for a close-up fifth off a muddling pace. Gets back, needs a genuinely run race.
Able One: 9yo local who won this race in '07 and '10, but was also fav last yr before being scratched at the barrier. Not far away in six runs this year, but hasn't managed a place. Not a winning chance, big unders.
Flying Blue: up and comer who came third to Destined For Glory and Ambitious Dragon recently (see link at the top), beaten 3/4 of a length at odds of 27. Drawn well, needs to step up another level to win, but lightly raced and is capable of doing that.
Destined For Glory: impressive horse who raced in Ireland as Wade Giles. I was keen on the horse before he went to HK, and he has made the steps forward expected of him, most recently defeating local superstar Ambitious Dragon in the Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Mile, carrying 5lbs less than him and having the easier run. Drawn one which could be a negative off a slow pace, but overcame that hurdle last time. Trainer claims that he is now a specialist miler after sending a blood sample off to a genome testing unit. Took a big step forward last time, capable of doing it again.
Outdoor Pegasus: gets a run after the withdrawal of Fair Trade. A long way off this lot.
Sichuan Success: has been progressing through the ranks in HK but has drawn wide. Top run last start when blocked for most of the straight in the Sha Tin Trophy. Had the weight advantage that day and started favourite, so obviously held in very high regard. The John Size/Douglas Whyte combination has been deadly in HK for many years. Has won six of his 12 career starts, by boom Australian sire Fastnet Rock - underestimate at your peril. Note - Aussie firms, who bet on HK regularly, much shorter (8) than most UK firms (13), who probably haven't watched the tapes...
Fat Choy Oolala: 100/1 with some bookies and for good reason. Rated more than a stone lower than the benchmarks of this field. Best thing going for him is that Maxime Guyon is aboard.
Dubawi Gold: 3yo British colt trained by Richard Hannon, best known for running second to Frankel in that Guineas win. Not the biggest horse in training, nor the soundest - has apparently failed a vet test to be sold to HK this year. I just don't think he's a winner at the top level, he keeps finding better opposition on a regular basis. Drawn 14, needs plenty of luck.
Sahpresa: French mare not afraid to travel. Huge run to finish third in the Japan Autumn International Mile Championship last start. watch her flashing down the outside. Multiple G1 winner, but only against the girls. Keeps running third or fourth when the boys join in. That makes her too short in the betting for me.
Apapane: very good Japanese mare who beat Buena Vista in the G1 Victoria Mile in May. Like Sahpresa in that she has won several G1 races for fillies and mares, but yet to break the duck against the boys. Seems to prefer racing wide or with plenty of room (last three wins from barriers 17, 15 and 16). In the mix.
This is a very even race with only two horses you can rule a line through. It's the strong local record which steers me away from the Europeans. Hard to split several of them here and I'll be going wide in the exotics.
Destined For Glory