Japanese pair poses biggest danger to Hong Kong stranglehold in Mile
Hong Kong has not been beaten in its flagship 1,600m event, the Hong Kong Mile, since Japanese galloper Hat Trick took it out seven years ago and it is the Japanese who present the greatest challenge this year to a home-town win.
Hat Trick won the Kyoto Mile Championship on his way to Sha Tin, and last Sunday that race was fought out by Sadamu Patek and Grand Prix Boss, with the former prevailing by a neck and the latter now runner-up this year in both of Japan's Group One miles. The third scheduled Japanese invitee, Yasuda Kinen winner Strong Return, has already been pulled out through injury.
The Japanese pair has a formidable look in a race the land of the rising sun has taken only twice, with Hat Trick and Eishin Preston, but in which the Japanese runners have often been very competitive.
French mare Siyouma has brought together again the "Jim And Tonic team" of trainer Francois Doumen and jockey Gerald Mosse, and Mosse has been aboard as the four-year-old has won Group Ones in England and Canada at her last two starts, so she comes to Sha Tin in cracking form. The Group Three Prix Perth winner at Saint-Cloud this month, Don Bosco, is the second French runner.
Irish-trained Gordon Lord Byron won the Group One Prix de la Foret during the Arc weekend in Paris last month and has been included.
And William Haggas-trained Master Of Hounds is the second British rep and - although well beaten in the Champion Stakes behind Frankel last time - he has won two important races this year, the Jebel Hatta in Dubai and the Topkapi Trophy in Istanbul, so he is racking up some frequent flyer miles.
And they will all need to be on their game to handle the locals. The first six placegetters from Sunday's Jockey Club Mile have been selected, naturally enough headed by dual Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon and his conqueror on the weekend, Glorious Days.
Again John Moore has numbers, with three runners including dual Champions Mile winner Xtension and emerging star Packing Whiz.
And with David Ferraris switching Sweet Orange to the 2,000m of the Cup, Moore's third string will be Packing Ok getting a late call-up to contest the Mile.