Mongolian raid likely on Hong Kong Sprint after Breeders' Cup success
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner looks set to travel from the United States to Sha Tin
A stirring weekend of racing worldwide has thrown up a number of likely contenders for the Hong Kong international races next month - including potentially the first Mongolian-owned contender for the turf world championships.
The aptly named Mongolian Saturday, owned by Mongol entrepreneur Ganbaatar Dagvadorj and trained by Mongol-American Enebish Ganbat, caused an upset in taking the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland yesterday morning, Hong Kong time, with connections immediately hinting a tilt at the Hong Kong Sprint could be next.
The Sprint is already shaping as the most competitive race on the card with the likes of Australian star Chautauqua, Irish speedster Sole Power and Japanese mare Straight Girl set to take on local sprinters Gold-Fun, Peniaphobia, Rich Tapestry and Not Listenin'tome, and Mongolian Saturday would add to the unique United Nations feel if he took his place.
He may be joined by Wesley Ward-trained pair Green Mask (third) and Undrafted (fifth) as they aim to become the first American-trained runners in the Sprint since 2009.
Meanwhile, Andre Fabre looks set to return to Hong Kong once more with Make Believe and Esoterique, fifth and seventh respectively in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Fabre has only twice brought runners to the December showpiece, winning the Vase in 1999 with Borgia before repeating last year with another potential visitor in Flintshire.
In Melbourne, French raider Gailo Chop took out Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington, trainer Antoine De Watrigant indicating Hong Kong was on the agenda with the Vase over 2,400m the preferred option to the Cup over 2,000m.
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He is likely to be joined in the Vase by Aidan O'Brien-trained Highland Reel, who ran third in the Cox Plate, while Breeders' Cup Turf third Big Blue Kitten is also considered possible.
Across in Tokyo, Takarazuka Kinen winner Lovely Day added the Tenno Sho (Autumn) to his résumé yesterday, but while he holds an entry for Hong Kong, it is the runner-up Staphanos who shapes as the most likely visitor.
Hideaki Fujiwara's Staphanos finished second to Blazing Speed in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup in April and his barnstorming second after travelling wide for the majority of the race looks to have him on song for the Hong Kong Cup.
Tomorrow's Melbourne Cup is set to unveil more likely contenders with 11 of the 24 runners holding December entries.
Trainer John Moore is set to lead the home team with defending champions Able Friend in the Mile and Designs On Rome in the Cup, and is excited about the prospect of taking on world-class fields next month.
"It seems as though there are more and more internationals wanting to make the trip this year," he said.
"It's a great thing for Hong Kong, it adds to the event and it makes it a great showpiece, a spectacle. I am looking forward to having runners in all four races and hopefully we can keep the trophies in Hong Kong."