The HK$25 Million (AU$3.75 Million) Longines Hong Kong Cup is the second richest race in the world over 2000m on the turf, and as such, it attracts the best horses going around at the time. Held at Sha Tin racecourse, where the mountains meet the sea, it’s without a doubt one of the best events on racing TV.
The locals have won the past three times out, and the eight lining up in 2014 look to have a strong hand again, but they’ll have stiff opposition courtesy of runners from Australia, Great Britain and Japan. The Australians will be represented by the ATC Derby (2400m) winner Criterion, who will make his official racing debut for the training partnership of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
Hong Kong Cup 2014
The Group l is run over 2000m at Sha Tin, where the gates crash back roughly 100m short of the winning post before the competitors do a lap of the famous circuit. The 2014 edition will see four individual Group l winners who’ve combined to win thirteen Group l races amongst them. A list that includes Criterion. Australian punters will be looking for Criterion to claim back some national pride after the big three races down under, the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup, were won by overseas raiders.
Event: Hong Kong Cup (G1 – 2000m)
Date: Sunday December 14
Location: Sha Tin, Hong Kong
Race Time: 7:30 pm Sydney time (AEDT)
Live TV Time: Foxtel channel’s 519 & 522
Hong Kong Cup Viewer Form Tips
Meet the stars that will be competing for a $2.2 million AUD first prize cheque during this 2014 edition of the Hong Kong Cup, and learn what makes these horses ‘winners’ no matter where they place.
Trainer: David Hayes & Tom Dabernig
Career Stats: 22: 5-5-2
Career Prizemoney: AU$2,598,700
Biggest Career Win: Group l ATC Derby (2400m), April 2014
Criterion is the interesting runner in the race for a few reasons. He had a real gut buster in the Cox Plate (2040m), running seventh to Adelaide, before backing up seven days later and running fifth to Happy Trails in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m). Former trainer David Payne advised the connections that the horse was at the end of the prep and needed a spell, but they have instead sent him to the Hayes/Dabernig team.
Given his recent form two scenarios could play out- He either relishes his new surroundings, travels well and runs a cracker, or David Payne was right in saying the horse is at the end of it this prep and he runs near last. At his best, he is surely a top three prospect.
DESIGNS ON ROME
Nationality: Hong Kong
Trainer: John Moore
Career Stats: 12: 5-2-1
Career Prizemoney: AU$4,063,881
Biggest Career Win: Group l Hong Kong Derby (2000m), April 2014
Designs on Rome has been the pin up horse of racing in Hong Kong and will go around as the most popular with the locals after a couple of stunning wins in the Autumn, firstly winning the Derby before beating the older horses in a memorable QEll Cup (2000m) triumph. He took home horse of the year honours over there and was immediately set for this race.
His form this time in has been patchy. First up he was superb when third in the Celebration Cup (1400m) before running a flat one in the Sha Tin Trophy when ninth to Military Attack. He then went to the traditional lead up to this race, the Longines Jockey Club Cup (1800m), where he was much better when fifth to Blazing Speed, beaten a length. His recent work over there has been pretty good and is a proven big time performer at this track/distance.
Nationality: Hong Kong
Trainer: John Moore
Career Stats: 26: 9-3-3
Career Prizemoney: AU$6,755,861
Biggest Career Win: Group l Singapore International Cup (2000m), May 2013
Prior to Designs On Rome bursting on the scene, Military Attack was the best horse in Hong Kong over distance with five wins to his credit, and by a fair margin. But as he is getting older, the new brigade of stars are catching up, but despite that, his recent form has been outstanding.
First up in the Sha Tin Trophy (1600m) he produced an amazing final furlong to nab Gold Fun right on the peg. He then went to the Jockey Club Cup (1800m) and was perhaps ridden a tad too close to the speed and nailed late by Blazing Speed in what was a real blanket finish. He has had two cracks at this race, running fifth to California Memory in 2012 and fourth to Akeed Mofeed last year. No doubt he is going as good as ever in 2014 and will definitely be there when the whips are cracking.
CIRRUS DES AIGLES
Trainer: Corine Barande- Barbe
Career Stats: 60: 21-20-6
Career Prizemoney: AU$11,296,671
Biggest Career Win: Group l Champion Stakes (2000m), October 2011
Cirrus Des Aigles is a global superstar who just never runs a bad race, normally in the best races around the world. He is an eight year old, but still continues to show that he can be a real threat no matter where he runs, evidenced by his Group l hat trick earlier in the year, winning the Prix d’Ispahan (1850m), Prix Ganary (2100m) and Coronation Cup (2409m) on the bounce.
His form though since a break after that Group l trifecta has been mixed. He won first up at Longchamp in the Group ll Prix Dollar (1850m), then went to the Champion Stakes (2000m) and never looking like the winner behind Noble Mission, running fifth. He has too many credits in the bank to completely dismiss, so don’t rule him out. His chances will improve if rain comes, but currently the forecast is for sunshine.
For career statistics, weights and other key details for every runner in the race see all the 2014 Hong Kong Cup tips found on the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) form guide
The Three to Back
Military Attack has been near bullet proof for a number of seasons now and continues to race a top class level. He is getting on in years, but still remains a formidable force in Hong Kong racing and should be a serious threat off the back of a couple of really good runs in the traditional lead up races to this event.
Aussie raider Criterion has shown in 2014 that he is a star with dominant wins in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and ATC Derby (2400m). He was also Group l placed behind Fawkner in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) before being brave in the Cox Plate (2040m). While it will be his first run for the new stable, he’s a serious top three prospect, especially if he can overcome his wide draw (9).
There’s usually one surprise in the field, and this year Blazing Speed ticks all the boxes. He’s shown the ability to stay strong at the end of 2000 metres, and was ultra impressive in winning this past November’s Jockey Club Cup (1800m) where he finished the race off best, with not many excuses to be had for the beaten brigade. He is the one on the way up, and will relish a fast run race.
Three reasons to watch the Hong Kong Cup:
This race will determine who is the best 2000m horse in Hong Kong
How will Criterion go for the new stable and coming off a minor setback?
It can be seen on Sky Racing and TVN, both carried live by Foxtel on channel’s 519 and 522.
If you aren’t a subscriber to Foxtel, you may wish to review their latest deals such as the just announced Entertainment pack half-price offer, of which Sky Racing and TVN are included.
You may also wish to follow the success of multiple Group 1 winning Aussie raider Buffering, who made the journey to Sha Tin to contest the Hong Kong Sprint. Also make sure you compare Foxtel Packages and evaluate if their sport offering is for you.