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  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 3:13pm
SportRacing
Hong Kong International Races

Defending champ Lucky Nine leads formidable home team in Sprint

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 2:28am
 

Home runners have made the Hong Kong Sprint their own and - if weight of numbers is any indication - the stranglehold should continue in a short-course event that has taken on an overwhelming Asian flavour this year.

With no European, American or South African representation, eight of the 14 places are taken up by locals, joined by three Singaporeans and two Japanese entrants, with lone Australian entrant Sea Siren left to buck the recent trend.

The top seven from last Sunday's Jockey Club Sprint made the cut - led by defending international day champ Lucky Nine - and are joined by ageing veteran Joy And Fun, who dead-heated for second in the race last year and goes into what could be his swansong first-up. Also getting the benefit of the doubt is Royal Ascot winner Little Bridge, after his disappointing ninth last Sunday.

In the last decade, only JJ The Jet Plane (2010) has managed to steal away the locals' prized international day crown, the Sprint remaining in Hong Kong hands for nine of the past 10 years.

Australia's reputation as pacesetters in the world sprint ranks has not shown through, but Sea Siren seems a worthy candidate to turn that record around. A runner from Down Under has not won the event since it was switched to 1,200m in 2006, and none has triumphed since Falvelon went back-to-back in 2001 up the straight 1,000m course.

Sea Siren is John O'Shea's second international day entrant and the filly brings strong form from the Melbourne Spring Carnival and an imposing overall record. The four-year-old has won six of 10 - finishing unplaced just once - and won the Group One Manikato Stakes before finishing runner-up in the Patinack Farm Classic just under two weeks ago.

Michael Freedman's Super Easy looked a threat late in the Jockey Club Sprint, before internal issues shortened him up. He will be joined by stablemate Mr Big, who has never finished out of a place in 17 starts and has put together back-to-back Group Three wins.

Patrick Shaw won't be bringing Rocket Man for a third straight year, but instead sends this year's Krisflyer International Sprint winner Ato, fresh from a last-start Group Three triumph.

Japan has never won the Sprint, but this year they send a pair of Group One winners who ran the quinella in the recent Sprinters Stakes - Lord Kanaloa and Curren Chan.

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