On The Rails

Hong Kong team will rise to the occasion on international day

Glorious Days and Ambitious Dragon pack a big punch in Mile, but success in the preludes does not guarantee glory on international day

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 1:01am

Hong Kong might not have a Silent Witness going into next month's Longines international meeting pencilled in as the winner already, but Sunday's prelude events left no doubt that local horses will uphold their recent record.

History shows a steady 50 per cent of the internationals are won by the home team and, without knowing the list of visiting horses until later today, we can be reasonably confident Hong Kong's horses will be around that mark again.

The Jockey Club Mile was a superior version of the race to what we have seen for a few years, in a category where local horses are always very competitive, so it augurs well for Glorious Days and Ambitious Dragon and they will be joined by Packing Whiz and a fitter Xtension to form a particularly strong Mile team.

The 2012 Jockey Club Sprint and Cup looked up to the average standards for those races and the Hong Kong Sprint has a history which screams how tough to beat the local sprinters have been. But we would reiterate the history of the international preludes - not since 2007 has any prelude race winner won again on international day.

Some have gone close, some have been dreadfully unlucky but, over time, the trial events from Sunday have not necessarily translated to December success, for the winners at least.

In 2007, the situation was different as we had horses like Sacred Kingdom and Good Ba Ba still relatively early in their careers and coming through wins in the trial events on an upward swing that continued on international day. The local heroes on international day were running around somewhere in the preludes, but not necessarily as the winners.

And while we're on the international prelude races, there is a change to the conditions that we would suggest - just a little one.

Singaporean sprinter Super Easy had nothing in his favour having to lump around the equal top weight in the Jockey Club Sprint and really shouldn't have been required to do so. This isn't about where he finished, which actually wasn't bad considering he scoped with blood in his windpipe afterwards, but about fairness.

All male runners start with 128 pounds, then get a five-pound allowance for not having won a Group One in the 12 months prior. Winners of our four-year-old "Group Ones" are also allowed the five pounds if they've not won an open Group One, since the level of the Classic Mile, Cup and the Derby is more often like Class One.

That's fair enough but the same courtesy should be extended to visitors. Super Easy had won a Group One in Singapore restricted to three-year-olds, and thus an even lesser standard of race than a four-year-old Group One. It does seem a bit rich to give the locals a break and not him.

The other side of the argument might be: what if the Epsom Derby winner came - is he also entitled to the allowance, since that is a three-year-old restricted race? The answer is yes, and let the cards fall where they may, in that unlikely event.

One aspect of Hong Kong's international racing that is greatly admired and respected around the world is that it is as fair a place as any to take a horse in the knowledge the rules are the same for everyone.