HONG KONG'S premier prizes could well be off to France as Verveine and Voleris look to have outstanding form credentials for this afternoon's eagerly-awaited $5 million International Cup and $4 million International Bowl. Both have had ideally light campaigns and appear to have taken the journey in their stride. They have also looked tremendously well at the track in the morning. Verveine had decent form as a three-year-old in France and has come back better than ever, winning one of her four starts this season when taking the Group Two Prix de L'Opera on rain-softened ground over 1,860 metres at Longchamp before running a cracking race to be a close fourth in the Group One Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita. She showed she handled fast ground when beaten just under a length and a half in the Yellow Ribbon. She appears to have been unlucky in running that day as she was shuffled back in the early stages in a slowly-run event and then came flying at the finish. In the circumstances she did well to run fourth as there is only a short run-in of some 300 metres at Santa Anita. What's more it should be underlined that the Yellow Ribbon is one of America's two premier turf races for fillies and Verveine was due to run in the Breeders' Cup but was re-routed to Hong Kong instead, where the opposition would not be so formidable. Her main threat could well come from the New Zealand-challenger Kiwi Golfer who should find this afternoon's event a little easier than the company he has been asked to tackle of late. He ran really well for a long way last time out when fifth of nine in Australia's premier weight-for-age contest, the Group One W. S. Cox Plate, and his crack New Zealand jockey Lance O'Sullivan has had plenty of experience riding at Sha Tin. Kiwi Golfer travelled easily for much of the way in that 2,000-metre event and looked the type who would appreciate the drop back to 1,800 metres at Sha Tin. Like Verveine, he appears to have done well since arriving in mid-week. Outside of these two there are a host of other chances who could well dispute the tierce. Best of them may be the Australian runner Dark Ksar. He's nothing much to look at but he's Hong Kong-owned and he has been trained with this race in mind. He went pleasingly in his prep-race when a close second over an inadequate 1,463 metres at Cheltenham and he's not been out of the first two on any of his last four outings. Trainer David Hayes sent out Fraar to run an agonisingly close second to Romanee Conti in last season's Bowl and he reckons Dark Ksar compares favourably to that one. Local hero River Verdon must be given plenty of respect. But as well as facing his toughest field since the Arlington Million, he also has advancing years with which to contend. He is a rising seven-year-old. Mick Kinane's mount Alflora has genuine Group Two form to his name and he, along with America's South Stark and Australia's Silk Ali, look best of the others. John Hammond's Bowl runner Voleris has all the paper credentials to take the race. He has improved with each start and has had just two outings back from a mid-season spell. He ran a good second on the first of these when beaten just a couple of lengths in a 1,210-metre Group Three event at Maisons-Laffitte before progressing to beat Alflora by one and a half lengths in the Group Two Prix du Ront Point over Arc weekend. Admittedly that win came over a mile on heavy ground but an earlier Group Three win on good to firm going over 1,410 metres at Longchamp should dispel theories that he must have a rain-affected track to win the Bowl. He has progressed with each of his four runs and has been aimed specifically at one of the International events from a long way out. But don't expect Voleris to be up on the pace. He is likely to be flashing home late under Cash Asmussen who is simply one of the finest riders in the world today. The main quinella chance in the Bowl, which doesn't look anywhere near so competitive as the Cup, could well turn out to be America's Journalism, despite his barrier 14 draw. He has plenty of natural speed and the way races are run here should suit the American horses. They have plenty of speed and Journalism's jockey, Corey Nakatina, doesn't have much option but to go forward from barrier 14. England's Swing Low could surprise a few people. He is likely to get behind from barrier one but his Group Two wins merit respect and he could easily finish late and fast into a place. Australia's Capestad is improving with each run and, like Voleris, has been prepared with this race in mind all along. He has only won listed races but then he has never been asked to tackle Group company until now. Connections firmly believe he will handle the rise in class but he must improve. So, too, must Winning Partners who looks the best of the local runners in the Bowl.