The International meeting suffered another hammer blow yesterday when Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal was scratched from the Hong Kong Cup after aggravating an injury. The Julio Canani-trained challenger was due to arrive in Hong Kong yesterday from the United States but did not make the flight with last year's Hong Kong Sprint runner-up Morluc. His place in the Cup will be taken by Saddle Up from Singapore. 'This is very disappointing,' said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's director of racing. 'Val Royal's trainer was giving the horse his final gallop and his problem ankle has flared up. He raced under medication in the Breeders' Cup but, after looking at his history in that area, we considered Val Royal did not compromise our policy to invite sound, drug-free horses. I don't think that is the issue.' Val Royal's withdrawal from the $18 million race further weakens the lineup for Hong Kong's showpiece fixture on December 16 following the earlier high-profile scratchings of Sunline, Slickly and Fairy King Prawn from the Hong Kong Mile. The American challenger was the highest-rated horse among the 36 overseas invitees, on an international mark of 124, and would have been the first reigning Breeders' Cup winner to compete in Hong Kong. But the five-year-old son of Royal Academy has a history of injury problems, with tendon trouble preventing him from racing last year and a foot injury keeping him out for most of this season before he returned in time to score his Breeders' Cup triumph just over a month ago. Saddle Up, the former Indian champion now based with Laurie Laxon in Singapore, has been called up for the Cup, but it was a close issue with Macau's top-rated horse, Best Brothers. 'We were aware that both were running last weekend so no decision was made until they raced,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'Had Best Brothers run well, then it might have been a difficult choice, but he finished last and Saddle Up was beaten a length and a quarter into third by Tapildo, who runs in the Hong Kong Vase. As he was the horse with the highest rating and the best form, Saddle Up had to be the choice. He was regarded as one of the best horses for a very long time in India and his form in Singapore has been comparable to Tapildo and another Hong Kong Cup runner, Bocelli.' There was more bad news for the Club yesterday when one of the 40 lots for next week's Piaget International Sale had to be withdrawn due to illness. The Danehill gelding out of Vice Vixen, who was lot one for the December 14 auction, had to undergo surgery after being struck by colic, though he may still have a future in Hong Kong. 'It is a great disappointment,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'He cost us 100,000 guineas [about $1.1 million] but I felt sure he would be a $2.5 million lot at the sale here. It was a significant operation so we will not know for a couple of months if he has come through it successfully but, if so, it is possible he will be put up for tender.' In other International news, Weichong Marwing has decided against an appeal over the five-meeting suspension which rules him out of the big day. There had been speculation that the South African jockey would ask the stewards for permission to ride at the International meeting, but he decided not to take that option following discussions with John Schreck, the Club's chief stipendiary steward. 'The penalties for riding offences are subject to change at the stewards' discretion and, if Weichong Marwing had asked for dispensation to ride at the International meeting, his case would have been considered,' Schreck said. 'But he spoke to me twice today and is not going to proceed. The matter is closed.' Marwing - who was due to ride Indigenous in the Vase, Cliffhanger (Sprint) and Housemaster (Cup) for Ivan Allan on International day - was handed the suspension at Sha Tin on Saturday for careless riding aboard Get It Easy in the fourth race. He will return on January 1. Eddie Lai is set to replace Simon Yim in the International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley a week tomorrow. Yim, the leading local rider in the jockey standings, was set to represent Hong Kong in the prestigious three-race series before picking up a five-meeting ban on Saturday. Lai, who rode in the competition last year, has been put forward as the substitute subject to ratification by the Racing Committee.