Hong Kong Sprint: Japanese champion Lord Kanaloa can match Silent Witness
Japanese powerhouse Lord Kanaloa can become the first horse since Silent Witness to record back-to-back wins in the Group One Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) when he makes his swansong in the HK$15 million race.
Takayuki Yasuda's stallion was a dominant winner of last year's edition and returns in even more imposing form than 12 months ago. This year, the five-year-old faces an even and uninspiring group of locals, plus three fellow overseas entrants from Europe, at his final run before he heads to stud.
Silent Witness won the Sprint in 2003-04, and Lord Kanaloa will be gunning to become the fourth two-time winner of the race, joining Sacred Kingdom (2007 and 2009) and Falvelon (2000-01).
Of the 10 local hopes, four head into the race having bypassed last Sunday's Group Two Jockey Club Sprint, including 2011 Hong Kong Sprint winner Lucky Nine. The Caspar Fownes-trained six-year-old was disappointing in the final run of a two-race campaign in Australia, after a brave first-up run in the Group One Manikato Stakes.
Joy And Fun hasn't raced since March, when he was a feisty second in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, and the 10-year-old will contest a race at his sixth straight international meeting. The tough Derek Cruz-trained gelding has been second (2011), third (2009) and fourth (2012) among his four previous attempts at this race.
Dual Group Three winner Go Baby Go and Group Two winner Rich Tapestry also go into the race after skipping the traditional lead up for the locals.
The top four from the Jockey Club Sprint were included, along with Time After Time and Frederick Engels, who were unplaced last Sunday but whose high ratings granted them inclusion.
No European-trained horse has won the shortest event on International Day and this year three runners make the trip.
Irish handler Edward Lynam brings unplaced 2011 Hong Kong Sprint entrant and subsequent Group One winner Sole Power, along with rising star Slade Power.
Sole Power was an unthreatening ninth in the sprint two years ago, but the six-year-old has since taken the 2013 King's Stand Stakes, while his four-year-old stablemate Slade Power was a last start winner of the Group Two British Champion Sprint Stakes at Ascot.
English trainer Robert Cowell's four-year-old filly Jwala is the other European entrant. She was a 40-1 winner - beating Shea Shea and Sole Power - of the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes, but has never won over 1,200m.