The Jockey Club unveiled a star-studded list of selections last night for a Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Race meeting in keeping with its billing as the turf world championships and the major sporting event of the Hong Kong year.
Two of the world's acknowledged top-10 horses will be here, Cirrus des Aigles and Excelebration, and the 31 invited horses boast formlines through many of the world's greatest races as they compete for HK$68 million in prize money across the four invitation-only events.
'The wide-reaching response from many of the world's leading horsemen provides visible support for the positioning of this great race day as the Turf World Championships. The quality of our selected runners, which include Group One winners in every major racing jurisdiction, gives a very clear indication of the high esteem in which the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races are now held,' said Jockey Club executive director of racing, Bill Nader (pictured) after the runners were announced.
Ten foreign racing jurisdictions will be represented, with the French success in recent internationals fielding a list of nine runners from France while Great Britain will also provide nine visitors and Japan five.
The French are headed by five-year-old Cirrus des Aigles with an international rating of 128, making him the joint-highest rated horse yet to run at Sha Tin when he tackles the Hong Kong Cup, while British-based Excelebration will be the highest-rated Mile runner in the history of the international meeting.
The defending champions of the 2010 Mile and Cup, Beauty Flash and Snow Fairy, respectively, will return on December 11, though the latter filly will step up to the 2,400m of the Vase hoping to emulate another Ed Dunlop-trained female, Ouija Board. The list of invitees includes the winner of the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup, in Victoire Pisa, and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up, Shareta, in the Vase, where she will clash with Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, the quinella in this month's Melbourne Cup.
Singapore's champion speed star Rocket Man was nosed out of the Sprint last year, but has since won the Golden Shaheen in Dubai and the KrisFlyer in his own backyard and returns with a view to making amends for his defeat at Sha Tin.
And once again, it is the participation of the world's biggest owners and trainers that stands out - the likes of Alain de Royer Dupre, Godolphin, and the Aga Khan - and they will clash with 23 of Hong Kong's champions, led by the 2010-11 Horse Of The Year, Ambitious Dragon.
Hong Kong trainer John Moore will have the biggest representation, fielding seven runners and is again the only trainer to feature in all four of the international races.
There are runners from Germany, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, the United States and New Zealand, however, Australia will not be represented for the first time since 2005.