Cup draws massive world-wide entries
By ROBIN PARKE
THE first international Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on April 1 has been given a huge vote of confidence from overseas with 45 entries from eight countries received by the Jockey Club. Director of Racing, Philip Johnston, said: 'It is very satisfactory indeed. There has been significant support from the Northern Hemisphere and we have ended up with more entries from there than we probably thought we would get.
'Australia, as expected, is very strong and there has been encouraging support from America although that is trickier. You cannot be sure how many of them will actually stay in. 'In relation to the overall entries, which total 45, they are probably more significant than those for the International Races to the extent that they are unlikely to be putting horses down for this race - knowing the conditions of it - without actually wanting to get a run.' Under the terms of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, overseas runners - there will be a maximum of seven - will receive a HK$25,000 allowance and all other expenses will be underwritten by the owners. There is no doubt that the success of the annual International Races in December has rubbed off on the new look Queen Elizabeth II Cup. From America, trainers like Jenine Sahadi, Cristophe Clement, Rick Violette and Wally Dollase, who have all had runners here before, have entered. So, too, has Darryll Vienna who had an International runner two years ago.
Top Australian trainers suce as Gai Waterhouse, George Hanlon and Hong Kong-bound David Hayes are all represented. Much interest will centre on one likely Australian representive in Waikikamukau who has mixed it with the best company in the country. From France, Volochine will return after his exertions last December and International Vase winner Red Bishop will come from Dubai.
There are four entries from Dubai but Australia is the heaviest represented with 14 while North American trainers have put in 11. There are five from Britain, two from France and none from Ireland. New Zealand weighs in with a modest four, followed by Japan with three and the Malay Racing Association with two. A special panel will choose the final lineup for the race and Johnston said: 'It will not be an easy task. All available information will be carefully checked and I am sure the panel will think in terms of the international aspect of the race.' The decision to 'internationalise' the QEII Cup has been vindicated by the excellent entry list.
The Northern Hemisphere entries are interesting with English trainer Clive Brittain, who loves to travel a horse, having entered Ionio and Needle Gun while Paul Cole hopes that Revere, who won four on the trot last season with his last win in a Listed Race in Italy, will get a run. Ionio is a quality entrant who ran second in the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes at York by a neck to Sacrament with Broadway Flyer, runner-up in the St Leger, behind him. Ionio did not stay the Leger trip, finishing fifth to Moonax having previously won the St Petersburg Stakes at Newmarket.
Needle Gun was considered the best maiden in Europe before the start of last season having finished second at York to Mick Kinane's Epsom Derby winner, Commander-In-Chief. He also finished second to top European stayer White Muzzle in the Italian Derby and second to French Guineas winner Kingmambo in the St James' Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Exciting front-running stayer Urgent Request, talked about as a probable runner in the eminently suitable QEII Cup will not be coming.
He is now racing in America as owner Stewart Aitken winds down his British operation.