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Hong Kong Vase

One of the great days of international racing takes place on Sunday, International Day at Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong. Hopefully this isn't the first time you've read about it on the blog - last year we landed a 150/1 winner (before NR reductions)! The author on that occasion was Calum Law, @calumswanlaw, and he returns to analyse this year's edition of the same race.

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Hong Kong Vase
G1, 2400m, Sha Tin, Sunday

Flintshire- Runner up in the Coronation Cup, The Arc De Triomphe and the Breeders Cup Turf in 2014 and all three pieces of form are more than enough to take this race. Will relish the ground, only flop this year came on good to soft at St Cloud, and he has plenty going for him on paper. On the flip side he is winless in seven and there is every chance this race is an afterthought. At south of 2/1 he looks poor enough value.

Dominant- Shock winner of this race last year but has largely struggled this term since his excellent fifth place effort in the Sheema Classic in March. Has only beaten five of 56 rivals in his five runs since Dubai and it will take a big turnaround in form for him to double up here.

Curren Mirotic- Not a superstar in his homeland but still capable of achieving high levels of form, as he proved with his three-length second to the mighty Gold Ship in the Takarazuka Kinen in the (northern) summer. Also finished within 1.25 lengths of Japan Cup sensation Epiphaneia, when a three-length fourth in a Grade Two behind Kizuna in April. He was discounted by the locals on both occasions going off at 55/1 and 31/1 respectively, which is an indication of his standing in the Japanese pecking order, however this is an easier assignment and he has to be taken very seriously.

Empoli- Consistent German galloper who finally broke his top level maiden in the Preis Von Europa after a string of top efforts in Group One company around the globe. That needless to say was a weak race for the grade and this is much tougher. Will be suited by the ground and showed, with his luckless fourth in this years Sheema Classic, that he is capable of competing at this level. Likely to run his usual solid race whilst finding a couple too strong.

Red Cadeaux- Globetrotting warrior who is often described as the bridesmaid of world racing, but has a win in this race in 2012 on his CV. Arrives here having finished runner-up to Protectionist in a lightweight edition of the Melbourne Cup, and has backed up in this race impressively from that event the past three seasons. Gerard Mosse knows Sha Tin like the back of his hand and he has to be a place contender. However he is rising nine and this is arguably the deepest Hong Kong Vase field he has faced. As current second favourite on the UK books he makes little appeal on value grounds.

Bubble Chic- Local raider who has plenty of back class, twice a runner up at the top level when trained in France, and has had a profitable season to date locally. He won a Group 3 Handicap over course and distance when giving weight to a useful field, before a fine effort when 4th in a hot renewal of the Champions and Chaters Cup. Has been running over inadequate trips this prep, and showed more when a solid 6th over 10 furlongs last time. This will have been the target for a while and he could go well at decent odds.

Parish Hall- Dewhurst winner at two, but hasn't scored above Group 3 level since. Jim Bolger won at this meeting in 2004 with Alexander Goldrun but has a poor recent record when campaigning horses long haul and the now five-year old entire makes no appeal

Willie Cazals- Ex-Italian Derby runner-up who has shown useful form over 12 furlongs since his transfer to Hong Kong. His second place efforts behind Dominant and California Memory over course and distance read well in the context of this race. Finished on the heels of the leaders in his prep for this challenge over 10 furlongs and he is a strong contender for the home team.

Rainbow Chic- Group 3 winning miler as a three year old when trained in France, but has largely struggled in the top events in Hong Kong. His best form has come over shorter than this and he doesn't look good enough anyway. Would be a big surprise were he to come out on top.

Khaya- New Zealand bred galloper who was beaten by Bubble Chic in a course and distance handicap when in receipt of a stone. Carries an international rating of 102 into the race and unlikely he will have the class to contend at the finish.

Wayfoong Express- No great shakes when trained in England when trained by Willie Muir but has made up into a decent horse in Hong Kong. However he is the lowest rated in the field and looks to have a mountain to climb in this company.

Just The Judge- Two time Group One winning filly who recently went through the sales ring at £4.5 million. Showed she can compete on the international stage with a successful three-run stretch in North America. However they were weak events restricted to fillies and she will need a career best to take down the colts here. Even with her fillies allowance she makes zero appeal.

Snow Sky- The second string to Juddmonte's bow and as the only three year old in the race receives 5lbs from the older colts. Arrives here off of a career best performance over 16.5 furlongs in the St Leger and gets the assistance of the 'world's best' Jockey, but also looks as a one-pacer and will likely lack to turn of foot to get the better of today's rivals. As current third favourite he looks well unders and can be safely discounted.

Verdict

Flintshire is the class horse in the field but he has had a busy season and this appeals as a possible afterthought for connections. At skinny odds he needs taking on and can be done so with the Japanese raider Curren Mirotic. He has been in and amongst some genuine superstars of late in his homeland and this rates as a slight drop in class. Having won the race last year the local horses need respecting and both Willie Cazals and Bubble Chic look over priced and are capable of reaching the frame.

1 Curren Mirotic
2 Willie Cazals
3 Bubble Chic

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