The $18 million Hong Kong Cup is set to break new ground on two fronts next month following the inclusion of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal and Ireland's Bach in the list of 10 invitees for the Group One event. Val Royal will become the first current Breeders' Cup champion to race in Hong Kong, while Bach will be the first runner here for Aidan O'Brien, the brilliant young trainer who has landed a remarkable 16 Group One wins across Europe and North America this year. 'We are delighted to get a Breeders' Cup winner for the first time,' said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Jockey Club's director of racing. 'And the participation of Aidan O'Brien shows that our races have attracted unprecedented interest this year from the world's top owners and trainers.' O'Brien trains principally for the powerful Coolmore racing and breeding operation, while the Club was also delighted that the world-conquering Godolphin stable would be represented in three of the four races. Although last year's Cup winner Fantastic Light has been retired to stud and is the only horse not returning to defend his title, Godolphin is set to run Tobougg in this year's event, along with Slickly (Mile) and Kutub (Vase). 'We hope Aidan O'Brien will come and see how everything is organised and the standard that is on show and he will gain confidence in the meeting. That will give us something to build on for next year. With Bach running so well in the Breeders' Cup Mile, I was personally a little surprised that O'Brien preferred the 2,000-metre race to the Hong Kong Mile, but I'm sure he has placed the horse where he expects him to run best.' Val Royal's connections have also elected to bypass the Hong Kong Mile to run in the world's richest 2,000-metre race on turf. At an international mark of 123, Val Royal shares the top rating in the race with German galloper Silvano and Hong Kong's perennial visitor, the French star Jim And Tonic. Silvano is a Group One winner in Chicago, Singapore and Hong Kong during 2000, and the fourth-ranked horse in this year's Emirates World Series, for which the Cup is the 12th and final event. Jim And Tonic has never been unplaced in six Sha Tin starts, including wins in the Hong Kong Cup and Mile, and he also took the Dubai Duty Free over Fairy King Prawn and Sunline earlier this year. The inclusion of Singapore champion Bocelli, well beaten recently in England at Group One level, has been a slight gamble by the Jockey Club on the basis of internationalisation. 'Bocelli could have been considered borderline, but Singapore is an important Asian racing centre and we want participation from as many major centres as possible,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'He is clearly the best horse in Singapore right now and we feel that we have to take a chance with this kind of horse.' Engelbrecht-Bresges said that he was expecting a high participation rate from the invited runners this year, even though the international meeting is over a month away. 'In years gone by we have had to do a lot more talking to convince people they should come to Hong Kong,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'This year, the problem has been which entries to leave out or to put on the standby list to replace dropouts - we have Group One winners on standby. 'Some trainers and owners have already confirmed with us they are coming. In the past, we probably got 50 to 60 per cent of our invitees, but this year I am anticipating closer to 80 per cent and, when so many things can happen to horses, to get 80 per cent of these horses here on December 16 is more than satisfactory.'