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The Audemar Piguet QEII Cup preview

High quality racing all around the globe this week, including the 'other' international day in Hong Kong. A handful of foreigners have beefed up the field in the QEII Cup into quite a tasty contest with plenty of depth. With the preview, it's regular HK correspondent, Jon Thompson, @jaytee6666.

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Audemars Piguet QEII Cup

Sha Tin stages the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup on Sunday with 14 runners heading to post at 16.35 local time or 09.35 on the UK clocks.

The race features what will surely be the first of many clashes between the local champion of the older generation Ambitious Dragon and this year’s Hong Kong Derby winner Akeed Mofeed.

The Arthur Millard trained Ambitious Dragon has been in superb form since reappearing last October already notching up three victories, a second and a fourth in his five races to date. His last performance in winning the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup was as impressive as any firmly putting the likes of Glorious Days and Lucky Nine in their place. Jockey Zac Purton has also had a tremendous season and again takes the ride on the local superstar who is drawn in stall six on Sunday.

Akeed Mofeed had been one of the most talked about racehorses to arrive in Hong Kong when joining trainer Richard Gibson from Ireland’s John Oxx. Formerly at the forefront of Epsom Derby betting until an interrupted preparation and injury took its toll this son of Dubawi has been handled masterfully by Gibson and delivered the trainer with his first Hong Kong Derby in just his 2nd full season as a trainer in HK. Jockey Douglas Whyte retains the ride and Akeed Mofeed will start from stall four.

The overseas challenge this year totals four in numbers with Eishin Flash from Japan, Sajjhaa from the Godolphin stable in the UK and the Mike de Kock trained duo of Treasure Beach and Igugu.

It’s hard to make a case for any of the traveling contingent although one is always aware of the credit that the Japanese horses have performed to in the world’s top races in recent year albeit without often winning.

Eishin Flash ran the enigmatic Orfevre to three parts of a length on his last start at Hanshin but earlier form looks questionable at this level including a seven length defeat by Monterosso in what was clearly a substandard Dubai World Cup in 2012.

Sajjhaa will be looking to provide some positive headlines for her stable in what has been a difficult week to say the least! One of two fillies in the race, the other being Igugu, this daughter of King’s Best has won her last four in Dubai culminating in taking the Dubai Duty Free with Igugu back in 5th place. She is undoubtedly in great form and it probably the best of the travellers.

The de Kock trained duo both look as if they will come up short. Treasure Beach looks a shadow of the horse that ran 2nd to Pour Moi in the 2011 Epsom Derby before taking the Irish equivalent 22 days later. His last two runs in Dubai gave the impression that he is either now a very hard horse to get fit or that he may simply need 2400 metres on turf to show the best of his ability.

Igugu has met an in-form Sajjhaa on her last three starts and although has made progress in finishing closer to her rival on each occasion clearly has something to find.

The John Moore trained Military Attack has won his last two in good style and is now the ride of Australian Tommy Berry with Zac Purton on ‘the Dragon.’ Formerly trained in the UK by John Hills he comfortably holds Irian and Zaidan on the form of the Citibank HK Gold Cup although supporters of California Memory will be hoping for a better run from their horse who could only manage 10th place at short odds that day.

Prior to that race California Memory had Ambitious Dragon a place behind him in the Stewards' Cup although it can be argued that after racing very tightly through the first quarter that Ambitious Dragon got far from an uninterrupted run. These two are old rivals and it is worth mentioning that at this trip there will be plenty who feel that the Tony Cruz trained runner will have his chance. Matthew Chadwick takes the ride from stall one.

Ashkiyr is worthy on a mention purely for the reason that he drew stall 14 of 14 in the HK Derby and was only beaten just under four lengths. However when you consider that Autumn Gold appeared the real hard luck story in that race coming from last place to be beaten two lengths in sixth it’s hard to make a case for Ashkiyr to reverse placing with Akeed Mofeed.

Thumbs Up, Crackerjack and Wrath Of Fire complete the line-up but all would need to magic up a career best performance to trouble the judge.

It’s a race where the pace will be key with Ambitious Dragon clearly possessing the turn of foot and Whyte looking to get a long and sustained clear run from Akeed Mofeed once they turn for home. Treasure Beach has been known to attempt to make all from the front and Colm O’Donoghue is a jockey that has been placed in that position many times with his pace making duties for Ballydoyle. Treasure Beach will enjoy being back on turf but it remains a question mark as to whether 2000 metres is on the short side for him these days.

With the Hong Kong Derby form still questionable due to a snail’s pace after 800 metres this looks another terrific opportunity for Ambitious Dragon to add another huge payday to his already impressive haul. If there is a surprise for the places then Ashkiyr could be the one.

1. Ambitious Dragon
2. Ashkiyr
3. California Memory

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