The HK$15 million Longines Hong Kong Vase has been hit with the withdrawal of two important British drawcards at next month's showpiece meeting.
The Luca Cumani-trained stayer Mount Athos will not be at Sha Tin in 12 days after struggling in the Japan Cup on Sunday and Group One-winning filly The Fugue has been taken out after failing to please connections in a track gallop yesterday.
Mount Athos had run very well in the Melbourne Cup this month but Cumani indicated some concerns about the stayer travelling again to Sha Tin for his third run in five weeks even before he ran poorly on Sunday, and advised the Jockey Club yesterday he would not be running.
That news was quickly followed by the withdrawal of the John Gosden-trained The Fugue, but on the positive side Red Cadeaux, an eye-catching eighth in the Japan Cup, and Japanese veteran Jaguar Mail, who finished 10th, both came through the race well and will go on to the Vase.
They will be hoping to tread the path of some previous Japan Cup runners who found the Vase more to their liking after being comfortably held in Tokyo.
Red Cadeaux's trainer, Ed Dunlop, used a fifth in Japan as the lead-up run for Ouija Board's win in the 2005 Vase, following the example of the Andrew Balding-trained Phoenix Reach, who finished sixth in Tokyo before winning at Sha Tin in 2004.
In 2008, Cumani-trained Purple Moon was narrowly touched off in a photo for the Hong Kong Vase after running ninth in the Japan Cup, and Jaguar Mail has run well at Sha Tin previously after contesting the Tokyo event as his lead-up.
The Jockey Club has now elevated the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained Bayrir into the Vase as a replacement for Mount Athos, but no replacement is expected for The Fugue and the field is down to 13.
An Aga Khan-owned three-year-old, Bayrir has won four of his seven starts, including the Group One Secretariat Stakes at Arlington in August.
Also out of the international meeting is Singapore-based Mr Big, who will be replaced in the Hong Kong Sprint by the John Moore-trained Captain Sweet.
In other news, freelance jockey Keith Yeung Ming-lun, who fractured his left ankle in a barrier trial fall on September 18, has been cleared to resume riding trackwork but is subject to further checks before he can take race rides again.
Fellow freelance jockey Eddy Lai Wai-ming has not been cleared to resume riding after an injury to his right hand and is not expected to be able to ride when his careless riding suspension ends on December 6.