Champions Mile field 'best ever', boasts Club
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is boasting the best HK$12 million BMW Champions Mile in the history of the event next month as runaway Dubai Duty Free winner Cityscape seeks to break the vice-like local grip on the race.
No visitor has won the Champions Mile in its brief international history since 2006, and the home defence on May 6 will be led by Horse Of The Year Ambitious Dragon, past Champions Mile winners Xtension and Able One, triple Group One winning Lucky Nine along with Glorious Days and Admiration.
It's a daunting team to face on their home soil, yet no visitor has arrived with the credentials of the Roger Charlton-trained Cityscape - a desperately unlucky second in the Hong Kong Mile in December after racing very wide throughout as a prelude to his hollow Duty Free victory last month.
Cityscape won by more than four lengths on the turf at Meydan, leaving Xtension six lengths behind him and Ambitious Dragon a further two lengths back, although the latter emerged with a fever following the race.
In addition, the international contingent for the Champions Mile will include Godolphin's African Story, the Mike De Kock-trained Musir and the Hong Kong-owned, Peter Moody-trained King's Rose from Australia.
'This is the finest field ever assembled for the BMW Champions Mile and it is particularly pleasing to have four overseas challengers of such exceptional talent along with our superb group of Hong Kong milers,' said Bill Nader, the Jockey Club's executive director of racing.
African Story was the Group Two Godolphin Mile winner on Dubai World Cup night in impressive style for Frankie Dettori, though that race was on the tapeta surface and the query over his form is that he has won four of five starts on artificial surface - three of his four runs on tapeta - but has won just one of seven on turf.
King's Rose, a five-year-old mare who races in the Elegant Fashion colours of Dr Gene Tsoi Wai-wang, won at Group One level in New Zealand as a three-year-old and has taken out four Group Two races there and in Australia.
She has been close up in group Ones in Sydney lately - she is down to run in the Doncaster Mile at Sydney's Royal Randwick on Saturday - and she will make the stop in Hong Kong for the Champions Mile on the way to competing at Royal Ascot.
Musir will be making his second trip to Sha Tin after finishing third to Xtension in last year's Champions Mile.
He is headed in the opposite direction to King's Rose, with the son of Redoute's Choice having his last race start in the Champions Mile before commencing a career at stud at Coolmore in Australia.
Making up the field for the Champions Mile will be the talented but out of form Beauty Flash, the Caspar Fownes-trained Fair Trade, the John Moore-trained Group Two Jockey Club Mile winner last November, Destined For Glory, and the very consistent evergreen, Sunny King.