The numbers may be down but the quality quotient remains high, with Europe's champion miler, Ramonti, and runaway Global Sprint Challenge leader Miss Andretti topping the list of realistic nominations for this year's Cathay Pacific International Races in December. There are also the usual gaggle of top-shelf but highly unlikely entries, including Arc de Triomphe winner Dylan Thomas and his Coolmore stablemate, George Washington. But while the Breeders' Cup meeting in the US on Saturday week may spell the end of Dylan Thomas and George Washington's chances of visiting Hong Kong, Jockey Club international racing manger Mark Player last night insisted Dylan Thomas was a 'live chance' of taking his place at Sha Tin on December 9. Player said the club was taking a lot of encouragement from the fact trainer Aidan O'Brien double entered him, for both the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) and the Vase (2,400m), combined with the rave review given by O'Brien in the wake of his first experience at the meeting last year. This time 12 months ago, the Jockey Club was able to boast 322 nominations, including 79 individual Group One winners. Yesterday, those figures were 287 entries (down 10.9 per cent) and 69 individual Group One winners (down 12.7 per cent), but the club has the satisfaction of having most of the big-name horses it targeted. Australia's champion sprinting mare, Miss Andretti, winner of three Group Global Sprint Challenge legs in Melbourne (two) and England, is a confirmed traveller as long as the equine influenza (EI) outbreak does not hit Victoria. While the club has been tight-lipped on the participation of Australian runners after the EI problem, connections of Miss Andretti were reported in the Australian media to have been assured of her acceptance for the Hong Kong Sprint, on the sole proviso that Victoria remains EI-free. The Royal Ascot winner will first undergo a two-week quarantine in her home country before departing. 'The entries are exceptional and illustrate how the meeting has matured into the turf world championships,' said Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader. When the Jockey Club changed the Hong Kong Sprint from 1,000 to 1,200 metres last year, and increased the prize money 20 per cent to HK$12 million, it was rewarded with the best field in the race's history. One year down the track, the Sprint again looks like being one of the highlights, with Miss Andretti ready to tackle Hong Kong's best in Absolute Champion, Medic Power and Sacred Kingdom.