Chase Is On For Hong Kong Vase
The Flat makes a brief return at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday morning, where a star-studded cast assembles to do battle in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Vase (6am)
European runners hold a fair chance of getting amongst the Group 1 prizes too, with Flintshire currently the 13/8 clear favourite for victory in the Hong Kong Vase.
Andre Fabre’s consistent 5yo ran out a comfortable winner of this race 12 months ago, prior to picking up a third Grade/Group 1 in America last August. His form continued when a cracking runner-up to Golden Horn in the Arc 70 days ago, and a repeat of that should be good enough for back-to-back wins in this.
Sir Michael Stoute enhances the chance of European success via his improving 4yo, Cannock Chase (6/1).
Unbeaten in two outings over the trip, including an impressive win in the Grade 1 Canadian International in October (good), Cannock Chase has to rate each-way value with Pat Smullen booked.
Hong Kong Sprint (6.40am)
Domestic runners, however, look to hold a strong handle on the sprint, with Gold Fun bidding to follow-up his Group 2 win over C&D last month; Peniaphobia was over 1l back in second (5/1). Runner-up in last year’s mile at this meeting, Gold Fun is just as effective at sprinting, and has been handed a nice low draw in stall 6 for Sunday.
Edward Lynam’s, Sole Power (16/1), also has a reasonable draw in stall 8 (of 14), and returns for a fourth crack at the race, having been runner-up in 2013.
Hong Kong Mile (7.50am)
Another well-backed favourite lines-up for the mile in Able Friend (11/10), who won at this meeting during the last two years, including a 4l victory in this event 12 months ago. Three more Group 1’s followed at Sha Tin, but he has disappointed in two of his last three outings, including when only third over C&D last month.
Should Able Friend fail to be in top form again, then David O’Meara’s improving, Mondialiste (4/1), may be ready to pounce. Progressive throughout 2015, this 5yo won a Canadian Grade 1 prior to finishing runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (good), where Esoterique (10/1) was 5l back in sixth. A repeat of those efforts would put Mondialiste bang in the frame on Sunday.
Hong Kong Cup (8.30am)
As for the big race itself, the betting suggests there is a fair chance Dermot Weld could be adding the Hong Kong Cup to his growing international CV of major races won with Free Eagle.
Weld aims his powerful 4yo colt for this 1m2f event, who was last seen finishing an unlucky sixth in the Arc (1m4f, good). Not given the clearest path that day – as was the case in the Irish Champion Stakes the previous month – Weld will be hoping for a clearer path on Sunday, as was the case when Free Eagle won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot (1m2f, good to firm).
Free Eagle will need to be at his very best, however, as he faces last year’s Hong Kong Cup 1-2: Designs On Rome (4/1) and Military Attack (7/1). The duo will be a big danger, but Pat Smullen may have enough under him in Free Eagle to triumph.
The best bet on the card is Sir Michael Stoute’s, Cannock Chase, who looks a value option in the Hong Kong Vase.
Improving fast, this 4yo has found his feet since stepped up to 1m4f, and looks cracking each-way material at 6/1 to make the frame.
*Prices correct at time of publication.