Loves Only You is among a stellar line-up of 49 horses selected for the HK$100 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 12 December.
Fresh off Breeders’ Cup success in the United States of America, Yoshito Yahagi’s mare is just one of 22 Group 1 winners set to compete. Returning to Hong Kong in a bid for a second G1 success in the city, the daughter of Deep Impact is looking to cap a superb year and she is just one of the exciting contingent of overseas raiders aiming at this year’s “Turf World Championships”.
Featuring prominently once more, Aidan O’Brien will return to Hong Kong in strength with 2020 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner Mogul while stablemates Broome, Japan, Bolshoi Ballet and Mother Earth also feature.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty around many international racing events, the strength of the international presence in this year’s line-up confirms that the Sha Tin showpiece retains its pre-eminent position at the top of the agenda for international horsemen.
The LONGINES HKIR is the sport’s global year-end spectacular and features the HK$30 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), the HK$26 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m), the HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and the HK$20 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m). The Cup, Mile and Sprint are the world’s richest G1 races on turf over their respective distances.
Mr Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, said: “The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) is firmly established as one of the world’s principal racing events and this year we will welcome an extraordinary line-up from Japan, Great Britain, Ireland and France which includes 16 individual Group 1 winners. To have runners of this calibre in any year would be notable but once again it is truly remarkable given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are delighted that the quality of the selected runners for this year’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is in keeping with our long-held commitment to deliver sporting excellence and Loves Only You’s return to Hong Kong after her historical Breeders’ Cup victory is incredibly exciting, as is the arrival of a quintet from Aidan O’Brien’s all-powerful Ballydoyle operation.
“Our hometown hero Golden Sixty is looking to enhance his astonishing unbeaten streak to 16 and also set a new all-time winning record of 19 in Hong Kong should he successfully defend his Hong Kong Mile title while star sprinter Wellington’s development adds further intrigue and everything surely points to a thrilling afternoon of sport on Sunday, 12 December.”
Loves Only You spearheads a strong cohort from Japan, which includes first and second out of the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama Racecourse last month, Pixie Knight and Resistencia, respectively, with both plotting raids on the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint. Danon Smash returns to defend his crown in the dash, while Glory Vase will attempt to recapture his LONGINES Hong Kong Vase title from Mogul – last year’s victor – who also returns from Ireland to represent Aidan O’Brien.
Joining Loves Only You in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup is Lei Papale, winner of the G1 Osaka Hai (2000m) earlier this year who is looking to remain unbeaten over 10-furlongs. Bolshoi Ballet – O’Brien’s American G1 winner – plots a course for the Hong Kong Cup, as does Mac Swiney for Jim Bolger and Dubai Honour for William Haggas. Both Mac Swiney – a two-time G1 winner – and Dubai Honour placed behind Sealiway in the British Champion Stakes with the latter getting within a length.
O’Brien will be double-handed in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase as the incredibly consistent Broome – who runs in Sunday’s (28 November) G1 Japan Cup (2400m) – journeys to Hong Kong for the first time following his cracking second to Yibir in the G1 LONGINES Breeders’ Cup Turf (2400m) earlier this month at Del Mar Racecourse.
The William Muir-trained Pyledriver – winner of the 2021 G1 Coronation Cup (2420m) at Epsom Downs Racecourse – is in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase. While, H H Aga Khan’s Ebaiyra – trained by the iconic Alain de Royer-Dupre – is also targeting a Hong Kong Vase raid.
Eyeing a 16th consecutive win and second successive LONGINES Hong Kong Mile crown, Hong Kong’s Golden Sixty will face no shortage of stiff opposition including Mother Earth for the Irish mastermind, O’Brien. Her brilliant three-year-old season boasts two G1 titles, winning the 1000 Guineas (1609m) and Prix Rothschild (1600m), while she has also placed in seven other G1 contests in Great Britain, Ireland, France and the United States.
Indy Champ and Vin de Garde join the Japanese brigade bidding to overthrow Golden Sixty, as does Danon Kingly, winner of the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) last June. Trainer Noriyuki Hori is no stranger to success in Hong Kong after the heroics of the great Maurice and he’ll be represented by Hishi Iguazu in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup as well as the G1-winning Salios, who also boasts consecutive runner-up efforts to Japan’s Triple Crown-winning Contrail. Salios will contest the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
Joining Golden Sixty – Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year – in the home team’s defence is Hong Kong’s Champion Stayer Panfield, who will be running in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.
Hong Kong’s emerging talent has always been ever-present and the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint will have no shortage of juvenile stars. Lucky Patch steps out for Hong Kong following consecutive G2 scores, while Courier Wonder, Naboo Attack and Sky Field bolster the home team’s defences with established G1 stars, Hot King Prawn and Wellington spearheading the charge.
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
World superstar Loves Only You returns to Sha Tin fresh off a brilliant success in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (2200m) at Del Mar Racecourse earlier this month and G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) triumph at Sha Tin Racecourse in April.
Lei Papale and Hishi Iguazu join her from Japan, the former is unbeaten over 2000m and is a one-time G1 winner having claimed the Osaka Hai (2000m). She will embark on her first overseas voyage for trainer Tomokazu Takano.
Dubai Honour – close-up second in last month’s G1 British Champion Stakes – is a two-time G2 winner who will make his first start abroad in Hong Kong’s most lucrative contest for trainer William Haggas. Third out of the British Champion Stakes, Mac Swiney, joins Dubai Honour in the contest and will bid to give legendary Irish horseman Jim Bolger a second win in the race after Alexander Goldrun reigned in 2004.
Aidan O’Brien will be represented by Bolshoi Ballet and Japan, the latter is a dual G1 winner after claiming the 2019 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) and Juddmonte International Stakes (2000m) – who arrives following a tilt in Sunday’s (28 November) G1 Japan Cup (2400m).
Leading Hong Kong’s defence of the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup is Glorious Dragon – along with Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup winner Panfield as well as Russian Emperor – second placegetter in the 2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), and Tourbillon Diamond and Ka Ying Star – who both supplemented for the race. The Tony Cruz-trained Berlin Tango will also line up in the Group 1 2000m event.
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Golden Sixty, extended his extraordinary unbeaten record to 15 in the G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) and the brilliant son of Medaglia d’Oro will attempt to defend his crown in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
Aidan O’Brien is the most prolific trainer in the history of the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase and he will look to add a LONGINES Hong Kong Mile crown to his haul with Mother Earth – his brilliant dual G1-winning three-year-old.
Danon Kingly, the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) victor, embarks on his first overseas foray and he’ll be joined by G1-winning miler Salios, Vin de Garde and Indy Champ, the latter returning for his second crack at Hong Kong glory after returning a luckless seventh in the 2019 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
In addition, John Size’s G1-winning miler Waikuku leads a solid field of home team entrants including 2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Sky Darci, Excellent Proposal – the 2021 Hong Kong Classic Mile winner – as well as Lucky Express, More Than This, Preciousship and Frankie Lor’s Healthy Happy, who led throughout to claim the 2021 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Danon Smash will return to defend his LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint crown, just like his sire, Lord Kanaloa did in 2013. He’ll also bid to give trainer Takayuki Yasuda a record-setting fourth win in the race; joining him from Japan is first and second placegetters out of the G1 Sprinters Stakes – Pixie Knight and Resistencia.
Spearheading the home team’s brigade is Wellington, winner of G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on FWD Champions Day last April, while veteran grey Hot King Prawn bolsters him at the top of the charts for Hong Kong as does Computer Patch, Amazing Star, Stronger, dual G2-winner Lucky Patch and Super Wealthy.
A host of young adversaries join their more experienced counterparts – Courier Wonder and Naboo Attack have shown glimpses of G1 quality and they’ll each look to take the next step on Sunday, 12 December.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
Legendary horseman Aidan O’Brien has a two-pronged attack on this year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Vase, led by last year’s winner, Mogul. Joining him is Broome, O’Brien’s G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (2400m) champion who logged a blistering runner-up effort to Yibir in the G1 LONGINES Breeders’ Cup Turf (2400m) in the United States.
Glory Vase – Silk Racing’s 2019 winner of the race – returns to reclaim his crown and he’ll be joined by Stay Foolish – Yoshito Yahagi’s consistent stayer who boasts placings behind Loves Only You, Chrono Genesis, Blast Onepiece, Mer de Glace and Win Bright.
Pyledriver has had Hong Kong on his radar for a while now and the William Muir-trainee features for Great Britain. The son of Harbour Watch defied Al Aasy in a gripping G1 Coronation Cup (2420m) at Epsom Downs Racecourse in June and before that boasts form around Addeybb as well as a solid third-placing in the G1 St Leger Stakes (2921m) to Galileo Chrome.
Runner-up in the 2021 G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m), Columbus County will head the Hong Kong team along with Butterfield – a dual G1 winner in Brazil – as well as Reliable Team, who recently made all in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
Yoshito Yahagi’s superb three-time G1 winning mare who boasts top-level scores in the United States, Japan and Hong Kong; returns to Hong Kong looking to remain unbeaten over 2000m at Sha Tin following her win in the 2021 G1 FWD QEII Cup.
Winner of her first six starts including the 2021 G1 Osaka Hai (2000m), since then finished third in the 2021 G1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) to the high-class Chrono Genesis.
Top-class three-year-old who placed at G1 level in the British Champion Stakes (1993m) last start behind Sealiway; before that, twice a winner at G2 level in France.
Two-time G1 winner over the mile at Doncaster and The Curragh; last out finished third in the G1 British Champion Stakes to Sealiway in October.
G1 winner at Belmont Park in the United States, winning the 2021 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes over 2000m; since then fourth to subsequent 2021 G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) winner State Of Rest at Saratoga and fourth and sixth to Yibir, respectively at Belmont and Del Mar his last two starts.
2021 G2 Nakayama Kinen winner (1800m); start prior won the G3 Nikkan Sports Sho Nakayama Kimpai (2000m); last out, fifth to Efforia in the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m).
Two-time G1 winner, claiming consecutive top-level triumphs through 2019 in the Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) and Juddmonte International Stakes (2000m); since then solid performer in the United States including a last-start fourth to Yibir in the G1 LONGINES Breeders’ Cup Turf (2400m) at Del Mar earlier this month.
Ka Ying Star
Pushed Beauty Generation to within half a length in 2020, boasts four wins in Hong Kong and three G1 placings; best win to date in 2020 G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m).
Four-time winner in Hong Kong, twice last season including the 2021 G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m); was without luck in first two runs this term; last out third to Reliable Team in G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).
Winner of the 2021 G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m); returned in fine fettle this term to claim the G2 Oriental Watch 60th Anniversary Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m); South American stayer who last out returned seventh in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m); won three G1s in Chile prior to import.
Runner-up in the 2021 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m); prior to import won the G3 Hampton Court Stakes (1993m) at Royal Ascot in Great Britain; last out fifth in G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).
G1-placed as Eric The Eel in Australia, finishing third over 2400m in the G1 Australian Derby; last out kept on stoutly to claim the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m).
G3 winner before import to Hong Kong when beating Vase contender Pyledriver in the 2020 Classic Trial Stakes (1999m) at Kempton Park Racecourse.
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
2021 G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) winner, defeating Gran Alegria over the mile at Tokyo; prior to that, placed at G1 level in the Osaka Hai (2000m); last out finished second to G1 winner Schnell Meister in G2 contest over 1800m at Tokyo.
Ultra-consistent performer with two G1 wins among her haul, striking in the 2021 1000 Guineas and Prix Rothschild just three months after; placed in seven other G1 contests.
Returns for his second crack at Hong Kong glory after finishing a luckless seventh in the 2019 edition of this race; boasts a win in the 2019 G1 Mile Championship among his haul.
G1-placed behind Lord North in the 2021 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan; before this, winner of a G2 contest at Tokyo, while last out finished 12th at Del Mar in the Breeders’ Cup Mile to Godolphin’s Space Blues.
Looking to extend his unbeaten record to 16 with the successful defence of his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile crown; exceptional talent and Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year with four G1 wins among his record; last out scored comfortably in the G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile going from last-to-first as he usually does.
Showed precocity early on, since then is a solid performer and G3 winner over 1400m at Sha Tin but yet to place at G1 level from two attempts; last out sixth in the G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile.
2021 Hong Kong Classic Mile winner who scored four times throughout his four-year-old season; since then, finished fifth at Class 1 level last start over 1400m.
First-up winner this campaign clinging on to a close-up victory at Class 1 level over 1400m, also finished runner-up to stablemate Excellent Proposal in 2021 Hong Kong Classic Mile.
Pushed Golden Sixty to within a head in the 2021 FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin earlier this year; placed in each of the three legs of last season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series, returned first-up this term to finish fourth in the G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile.
Bridesmaid as a three-year-old with two seconds to the Japanese Triple Crown-winning Contrail at G1 level; since then scored a G2 win at Tokyo over 1800m; last two starts – sixth in the G1 Mile Championship (1600m) and eighth in the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m).
2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) hero who is a prolific winner with seven wins from 17 starts in Hong Kong on his record, ranging from 1200m to 2000m; incredibly versatile winner of the G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) last season when defying Healthy Happy.
Seven-time winner from 21 starts in Hong Kong, finished a fast-closing runner-up in the 2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m); since then has become a two-time G1 winner, scoring over 1400m and the mile at the top-level in Hong Kong, one-time over Beauty Generation.
Three time winner from nine starts, claimed 2021 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) when leading all of the way last season, also finished close-up second to Sky Darci in 2021 G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m).
Solid performer who is yet to contend at G1 level; five-time winner whose best run came two starts ago when second by a neck to Panfield in the G2 Oriental Watch 60th Anniversary Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m).
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Winner of the 2021 G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama last out, defying Resistencia; Stepped up to the mile for the G1 NHK Mile Cup (1600m) before his last-start triumph at the top-level but faded to 12th; first overseas test.
Consistent performer who is looking to win back-to-back G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprints (1200m); three starts ago won the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo; last out placed sixth to Pixie Knight in the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m).
Runner-up in October’s G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama to Pixie Knight; G2 winner the start before, defeating Pixie Knight at Chukyo.
Seven-time winner in Hong Kong including at G2 level in the 2021 Sprint Cup (1200m) when surprising at 178/1; last three starts has weakened poorly.
G3 winner who has placed at G1 level, finishing second to Wellington in April’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) when trying to make all; returned for three runs this term for no placings.
Prodigious talent who won his first five starts to remain undefeated through his first Hong Kong season; claimed the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) at his final run last season before a luckless fifth in the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) two starts ago; last out finished fifth in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
Incredibly consistent performer with 12 wins from 25 starts in Hong Kong; biggest win in the 2021 G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m); second by a neck in 2019 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), returned first-up this season to finish eighth in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
Dual G2 winner this season at his most recent two runs, winning the 2021 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) and BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
Two-time winner from five starts in Hong Kong; hulking horse who won first-up this season at Class 1 level; last out finished second in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
Steady five-year-old with five wins from 17 starts in Hong Kong; biggest win to date in the 2021 G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m); gets back and runs on; last out finished third in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
Solid contender who is twice G2 placed; struggles to get his nose in front but rarely beaten too far; last out finished sixth in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) to Lucky Patch.
Five-time winner from 15 starts in Hong Kong; returned this season for new trainer and boasts G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) among his haul; placed in G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m); last out finished ninth in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).Wellington
Prolific winner with seven wins from 11 starts; claimed the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) last out; expected to return earlier this term but was found to be lame; first-up finished seventh in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
Six-time winner from 13 starts, including G1 Coronation Cup (2420m) at Epsom Downs; solid stayer who finished third in G1 St Leger Stakes at Doncaster earlier this year; last out won at Lingfield on the All-Weather course over 10 furlongs carrying a hefty weight.
G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase champ in 2019, since then finished fifth in the 2020 G1 Japan Cup (2400m) and second to Loves Only You in the 2021 FWD QEII Cup (2000m); last out third at G2 level at Nakayama.
Last out registered a brilliant second to Yibir in the G1 LONGINES Breeders’ Cup Turf (2400m), beaten by only half a length; one-time G1 winner having claimed the 2021 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (2400m).
Solid four-year-old filly for H H Aga Khan, dual G3 and G2 winner; finished second to Broome in the 2021 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (2400m); last out sixth in August’s G1 Prix Jean Romanet (2000m) at Deauville.
Last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner returning for another crack; mixed his form since that run but did place a well-beaten third at G1 level at Longchamp three runs ago.
Solid performer but not a prolific winner; however, boasts placings behind Loves Only You, Chrono Genesis, Blast Onepiece, Mer de Glace and Win Bright.
2021 G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) winner; prior to arriving in Hong Kong was a two-time G1 winner in Brazil, including the Derby Paulista (2400m) at Cidade Jardim.
Second in the 2021 G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) to Panfield by a half a length; performed fair this term, last out returned fourth in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).
Seven-time winner in Hong Kong and three times placed at G3 level, missing by under half a length – each time. Bold front-runner who tends to try and make all, especially in recent times; last out captured the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) from the front.
Hong Kong Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Loves Only You (Hong Kong Jockey Club Photo)