A clever Zac Purton ride last year saw Hong Kong steal the HK$16.5 million Longines Hong Kong Vase from the visitors for the first time since 1998, but the presence of headline stayer Flintshire augurs well for the trophy returning to its usual European home next month.

Europeans have dominated the 2,400m Group One's history and a questionable local defence team and a lone Japanese representative stands between them and victory next month.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up, Flintshire will be the fourth-highest rated horse to run in the Vase, aiming to give Andre Fabre his second Vase win 15 years after Borgia gave him a first.

Flintshire - one of two runners for Khalid Abdullah who also has UK-trained three-year-old Snow Sky in the race - carries an international rating of 124. Only Arc winner Dylan Thomas (128), Arc runner-up Westerner (126) and multiple Arc runner-up Youmzain (125) have taken a bigger figure into the Vase, although Aquarelliste was rated 123 as a filly when second in 2002. If there is encouragement to be taken from that, however, out of that highly rated group coming from the Arc, only the filly managed even a place.

The 2013 winner, Dominant is nearest to Flintshire in the ratings at 119, Japanese stayer Curren Mirotic on 116, while 2012 Vase winner and triple Melbourne Cup runner-up, Red Cadeaux (115) comes back for his third run for former Jockey Club chairman, Ronald Arculli.

Japanese staying form is respected the world over these days and Curren Mirotic brings as his recommendation a Group One second to one of Japan's best, Gold Ship, over 2,200m in June.

Charlie Hills-trained Just The Judge comes off a third in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last run, but is unknown at 2400m, while the lone three-year-old Snow Sky has the opposite problem as he comes off placings at longer distances in the Great Voltigeur Stakes and St Leger in Britain.

Germany's Empoli is a last start winner of the Group One Preis Von Europa at home and the foreign runners are completed with Ireland's Parish Hall, in the wily hands of Jim Bolger.

Dominant may carry the top rating of the locals, but most will be looking at Willie Cazals as the best chance of a surprise, while Bubble Chic, Rainbow Chic, Khaya and Wayfoong Express have a bit to find on both form and current ratings.