Snow Fairy injury leaves HK Vase field in tatters
The HK$14 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase on December 11 has been decimated by withdrawals, with outstanding stayer Snow Fairy the latest to fall to injury after a routine workout at Sha Tin yesterday morning.
Snow Fairy's last-to-first burst to win the Hong Kong Cup in 2010 was one of the showpiece meeting's highlight moments and the Ed Dunlop-trained mare was expected to be a dominant favourite for the Vase following another stunning lead-up win in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup in Kyoto.
Dunlop will still have Melbourne Cup runner-up Red -Cadeaux in the Vase but was downcast last night at the injury to the left foreleg of his stable star who has been in the thick of the big events all year in Europe and then Japan.
'I don't want to say a lot about it. She had a canter on the all-weather track in the morning and tonight we are not happy with her,' he said. 'It's very disappointing. She will return to England next week.'
Marquee names are dropping out of the meeting at an alarming rate.
Snow Fairy's name is added to that of star English three-year-old Excelebration, out of the Hong Kong Mile late on Sunday when his connections were not pleased with an endoscopic examination of his airways, Dubai World Cup winner Victoire Pisa, who misses the Cup after a poor run in Tokyo and Arc runner-up Shareta, who ran soundly in the Japan Cup but will not back-up in the Vase.
'They are all tough horses to lose. Excelebration was a very hard pill to swallow - having him here was going to be something special and now to lose Snow Fairy as well really hurts,' Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader said. 'But we have to live with the fact that these things happen with race horses. It's too late to expect we will get another foreign horse for the Mile so we will offer that place to another local horse.'
And it doesn't stop there. Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Regally Royal has been signalled as extremely unlikely for the Sprint, with local runner Rich Unicorn likely to replace him, and Nader said the club also looks like losing Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner, Perfect Shirl, from the Vase.
'It doesn't look good. She has a small injury, not a major one but probably enough for her people to decide to stay home,' Nader (pictured) said. 'So that's a real pity if our two Breeders' Cup-winning horses are out.'
The negative was well in charge of the day's news but, on the positive side, Nader reported that Japan Cup fourth placegetter, Trailblazer, was a confirmed visitor for the Vase as is French-trained Canadian International winner, Sarah Lynx, despite finishing twelfth in Tokyo.
'We have also issued an invitation to Jaguar Mail, the Japan Cup third placegetter, to come for the Vase,' Nader said. 'He has been here for the last three runnings of the race and finished in the first four every time so it's a race that suits him. It's probably only a small chance that he would make the trip this time, though, with just two weeks between the Japan Cup and our race.'