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Champions Mile Preview

Once again, feature race action this weekend takes in Hong Kong, this time for the Champions Mile. After her successful debut last week, welcome back Lara Pocock, @lara_pocock. You can read more of her handiwork on her blog.

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Champions Mile

The second successive International Group One on a Sunday takes place in Hong Kong this weekend, the Champions Mile (Gr 1, 1600m). The field will feature ten top class milers, including two international contenders.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club website is becoming one of the best around for updates, with track notes publishing daily, along with photographs of the horses working and quotes from connections, as well as full reactions to the barrier draw, which took place on Thursday. Those outside of Hong Kong can view the race replays in full, another useful feature. The website is available here - www.hkjc.com/english

The Sha Tin track is currently on the better side of good, with some of the runners hoping for some cut in the ground before the feature race, which carries HK$12,000,000 (A$1,507,584/£997,016) to the winner.

1. Glorious Days (barrier two) - The likely favourite who has not really put a foot wrong this season. He has been in the first three for his last five starts, only being defeated by champion Ambitious Dragon, who does not line up here. The six- year-old Australian-bred was second in this race last year and should be in the frame again this year.

2. Packing Whiz (barrier ten) - This Caspar Fownes-trained five-year-old comes off a career best performance where he won the Chairman's Trophy, a domestic Group two over course and distance on 7 April, beating four of this field. If he can keep up the form of that race he should be in the toss up and is the likely second favourite.

3. Dan Excel (barrier one) - Second to Packing Whiz on his last start, this John Moore-trained gelding has not won since arriving in Hong Kong, it is actually two years since his last victory. He has been placed in a number of Group races and could go close again.

4. King Mufhasa (barrier six) - New Zealand raider who has won ten Group One races, four over 1600m. This is the first time a New Zealand-trained horse has competed in the race and the eight-year-old veteran has been working well and pleasing connections ahead of this, having travelled over well. A leading contender on his previous merits, with age seemingly not getting the better of him after he finished second on his last start in the Group One George Ryder Stakes to champion Pierro (by Lonhro).

5. Xtension (barrier five) - the only other International Group One winner in the field, having taken this race for the last two years. He has not won since his last victory in this race, with his best performance coming when third in the Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2000m in February. Now a six-year-old with possibly his best years behind him he is in with a chance of a place.

6. Pure Champion (barrier nine) - The six-year-old won the Centenary Vase, a domestic Group Three over 1800m, in February when partnered by French jockey Gerald Mosse and has been in the first four on his three runs since. Mosse will again be on board and could be a great help for the Tony Cruz-trained gelding.

7. Penitent (barrier eight) - British raider who would benefit from further rain. He has been drawn on the outside, which is not ideal as he likes to be up with the pace. He has won two Group Two's in Britain and was eighth in the Group Two Godolphin Mile on his latest start, having been second in the Group One Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Arc day last October.

8. Admiration (barrier three) - A late non-runner due to being lame in his right- fore.

9. Helene Spirit (barrier four) - The winner of one race this season over 1400m in a domestic Group Three, the six-year-old will need to put in a career best performance to figure in the shake up here and is the outsider.

10. Gold-Fun (barrier seven) - The sole four-year-old in the field, who is trained by Richard Gibson. Gold-Fun is dropping back in trip having run in the Hong Kong Derby, a domestic Group One over 2000m, where he finished third. However he won over course and distance in January when taking the Group One Classic Mile.

On the form book and from all reports this week King Mufhasa should be able to sweep these rivals aside. However there are some big issues he needs to overcome, namely the travelling and his recovery from a wind operation but he is currently available at a tasty 10-1. His second to Pierro suggests he is in good form and he is my first selection.

Gold-Fun is only a four-year-old but back to this distance I think he should prove himself against the older horses and he is horse number two for me. Glorious Days is the likely favourite and I think he will make the frame but maybe not the winner's circle.

1. King Mufhasa (10-1)
2. Gold-Fun (6-1)
3. Glorious Days (2-1)

TIP: King Mufhasa each way

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