World Cup stars to race in HK
Dominant Dubai Duty Free winner Cityscape and the top three from the Godolphin Mile are among an expected influx in overseas raiders for the upcoming international Group Ones at Sha Tin.
The travel plans of many of the foreign entries for the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup on April 29 and the BMW Champions Mile a week later were contingent on strong runs at Saturday's Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan.
Hong Kong Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader said an increase in international runners was expected in both races.
'We're in a pretty good spot to have quite a few of the horses from World Cup night make their way over,' he said. 'With the Champions Mile, in the past we've had five or six overseas runners, but we'd like to have four or five and it would be great to have five or six in the QE II.
'It might take a few more days to work out who is coming and by Tuesday we'll start to know more. But the first three from the Godolphin Mile; African Story, Viscount Nelson and Red Jazz, are all entered, and Cityscape looks a likely contender, too.'
Cityscape was the run of the race when runner-up in December's Hong Kong Mile, where he was trapped deep without cover and still ran Able One to a head, and he is likely to return to Sha Tin with Roger Charlton having entered his six-year-old in both events.
First-up into Saturday's Dubai Duty Free, Cityscape gave his rivals, including three of Hong Kong's best middle-distance performers, a caning as he sat on the speed and burst away to win by 41/4 lengths.
African Story is entered for the Mile, and could make the trip with Dubai Duty Free third-placegetter and Godolphin stablemate Citystyle, who is entered in both races.
As will as Viscount Nelson, Nader said Mike de Kock is also likely to bring Dubai Duty Free runner-up Mutahadee for the QE II. The South African trainer has been a regular visitor to the spring features and won the QE II in 2006 with Irridescence and again two years later with Archipenko.
Red Jazz, who cut out the running in the Group One and gamely held on to finish third in the Godolphin Mile for the second time, is owned by former Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli, who won the 2004 QE II with River Dancer.
Arculli said his horse may not be a genuine star, but was now a seasoned traveller. 'There are a small number of horses who are able to travel, that's the trick, the best horses don't necessarily travel well,' he said.