It's a mammoth week for racing all over the world, with plenty of different flashpoints.

In the UK, it's the Cheltenham Festival. In Australia, it is Saturday's Golden Slipper and the upcoming Championships in Sydney. In the UAE, all eyes are trained on the Meydan track as runners from all over the world ramp up their preparations for the Dubai World Cup meeting.

But in Hong Kong, for this weekend at least, all eyes will be well and truly on the HK$18 million BMW Hong Kong Derby. 

The December international features may be Hong Kong's jewel in the crown on the world stage, but at home, the race that matters most is the Derby. It is the one race that owners want to win, and it is the race in which every owner strives to simply have a runner.

WATCH: Trainers react to the 2016 BMW Hong Kong Derby barrier draw

Firstly, the basics - and we'll start off simple. The Hong Kong Derby is for four-year-olds, unlike most other countries where it is for three-year-olds - Hong Kong and Singapore remain the only two major exceptions to the rule in the thoroughbred world. Also, horses from both hemispheres line up, but while the northern hemisphere crop are six months younger than their southern hemisphere counterparts, unlike a race like the UAE Derby, they don't actually receive a weight advantage. It hasn't put them at a disadvantage, though - in the last decade, four winners were bred in Ireland, four in New Zealand, and one each in Great Britain and Australia.

First run in 1873, it has been run at a variety of distances and under a plethora of conditions. Switched from Happy Valley to Sha Tin in 1979 after the opening of the New Territories track, it was restricted to four-year-olds from 1981 onwards and has been run at 2,000m since the turn of the century. 

Even the most casual Hong Kong racing fan will recognise some of the names on the honour roll. In the modern era, horses like River Verdon (who we wrote about last week), Makarpura Star, Johan Cruyff, Elegant Fashion, Lucky Owners, Vengeance Of Rain, Viva Pataca, Collection, Ambitious Dragon, Akeed Mofeed, Designs On Rome and last year's winner Luger leap off the page.

So who will join those names by winning the 2016 Hong Kong Derby?

The Griffin has compiled a fact file of each of the 14 runners, as well as reasons why they can and cannot win the Derby.


Trainer: John Size
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Owner: Tung Moon-fai
Rating: 110
Breeding: Snitzel x Tan Tat Star (Umatilla)
Lifetime Record: 11:8-2-0
Hong Kong Record: 7:6-1-0
Overseas Name: Tan Tat Sun
Overseas Trainer: Peter Moody, Australia
Best Performance: Won, Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m), Sha Tin, 21 February 2016
Last 10 Starts: 21x1x111x211

WHY HE CAN WIN: He has taken all before him in Hong Kong, including winning the Classic Mile and Classic Cup. He keeps rising to every challenge that is asked of him. He has the master trainer John Size in his corner, as well as top English jockey Ryan Moore. Just a classy animal.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: He would need to become the first horse to win all three legs of the four-year-old series, and there are serious question marks over his stamina. 

Watch Sun Jewellery win the Classic Cup:


Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Owner: Johnson Chen
Rating: 106
Breeding: Tavistock x Bagalollies (Zabeel)
Lifetime Record: 16:5-6-2
Hong Kong Record: 3:1-2-0
Overseas Name: Werther
Overseas Trainer: Andrew Campbell, New Zealand
Best Performance: Won, Group Two Eagle Farm Cup (2,200m), Eagle Farm, 30 May 2015
Last 10 Starts: 9121212x122

WHY HE CAN WIN: Ever since his first-up win in Hong Kong, he has been the nominal favourite for this race. The trip holds no concerns and he looks like he has been primed for this one day. He is John Moore's number one seed and he looks perfectly suited by this race, even more so from the good draw.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: He keeps finding Sun Jewellery too good. He looked a little flat-footed in the Classic Cup. He looks to need a bit of luck in his races, and still not convinced he is as good as his form suggests on paper. 

Watch Werther win the Eagle Farm Cup:


Trainer: Ricky Yiu Poon-fai
Jockey: Gerald Mosse
Owner: Infinitude Syndicate
Rating: 105
Breeding: Starcraft x Stormy Choice (Redoute’s Choice)
Lifetime Record: 14:6-3-2
Hong Kong Record: 14:6-3-2
Overseas Name: N/A
Overseas Trainer: N/A
Best Performance: 3rd (dead heat), Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m), Sha Tin, 21 February 2016 
Last 10 Starts: 1211110233

WHY HE CAN WIN: One of only two horses to have come to Hong Kong unraced, he has risen through the grades and shown plenty. His Classic Cup run was probably his best effort yet, so he still has improvement. His pedigree suggests he should get 2,000m. Gerald Mosse is the ultimate big-race rider. He appears adaptable to whatever pace scenario eventuates.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: He has always shaped up as being more a sprinter-miler type, despite his pedigree. He is also a horse that needs plenty of room in his races - he has the right jockey aboard for that, but in a race like this where stamina will be tested, it could be a negative. He has also had a tougher preparation than most of these. He looks to be near his mark in the ratings.

Watch Blizzard run third behind Sun Jewellery in the Classic Mile:


Trainer: Tony Cruz
Jockey: Joao Moreira
Owner: Eugene Chuang Yue-chien
Rating: 99
Breeding: Galileo x Love Me True (Kingmambo)
Lifetime Record: 8:1-1-3
Hong Kong Record: 2:0-0-0
Overseas Name: Giovanni Canaletto
Overseas Trainer: Aidan O’Brien, Ireland
Best Performance: 4th, Group One The Derby (2,412m), Epsom, 6 June 2015
Last 10 Starts: -31x2433x65

WHY HE CAN WIN: He has been the clear eye-catcher of the two trials for this, the Classic Mile and the Classic Cup. In particular, his Classic Cup run was terrific, coming from last to finish just a length off them in fifth. He has always had an element of class and while stamina is a query for many of these, he will have absolutely no problems with 2,000m. He also has the Magic Man, Joao Moreira, in the saddle.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: Will the 2,000m be too short? Will he get enough pace? Is he just a type that will always run on but won't ever find himself on top? Is he ready off just two runs in Hong Kong? Plenty of question marks.

Watch Giovanni Canaletto run fourth behind Golden Horn in the Epsom Derby:


Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Owner: Sir Po-shing & Lady Woo, Wilson Woo Ka-wah, Jackson Woo Ka-biu and Dawson Woo Ka-chung
Rating: 95
Breeding: Polan x High Zaff (High Chaparral)
Lifetime Record: 10:3-2-2
Hong Kong Record: 3:1-1-0
Overseas Name: Sir Andrew
Overseas Trainer: Fernando Perez-Gonzalez, Spain
Best Performance: 3rd, Group One Prix Jean Prat (1,600m), Chantilly, 12 July 2015
Last 10 Starts: 125x1353x251

WHY HE CAN WIN: Two of his three runs in Hong Kong have been outstanding - his slashing first-up second to Friends Of Ka Ying and his last-start win. He had never been pushed beyond a mile before last start, but his pedigree is laden with stamina. He is still improving and of the European imports, he looks to have had one of the better preparations for this.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: He has a terrible draw and that means Tommy Berry's options are limited. He can overrace and so he needs everything to go his way - and in a race such as this, that's extremely unlikely.

Watch Helene Paragon finish third behind Territories in the Prix Jean Prat:


Trainer: Benno Yung Tin-pang
Jockey: Tye Angland
Owner: Alan Wong Wai-kai
Rating: 94
Breeding: Al Maher x Ilhaam (Secret Savings)
Lifetime Record: 12:5-0-0
Hong Kong Record: 4:1-0-0
Overseas Name: Almalad
Overseas Trainer: Gai Waterhouse, Australia
Best Performance: Won, Group One J J Atkins Stakes (1,600m), Eagle Farm, 7 June 2014
Last 10 Starts: 1x94180x6016

WHY HE CAN WIN: Local favourite Tye Angland returns to Hong Kong for the first time since last year's Derby, when he finished third at big odds on a horse with a very similar profile in Romantic Touch - both trained by Benno Yung, both formerly trained by Gai Waterhouse, both winners of the J J Atkins, both were not as good at three, both were ridden on speed in Australia but were ridden behind in Hong Kong in order to teach them to settle. He is Romantic Touch 2.0.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: The two times he has stepped beyond a mile, he has looked uncomfortable over a trip, with his turn of foot dented. Also not convinced he is quite good enough.

Watch Friends Of Ka Ying win the J J Atkins:


Trainer: Tony Cruz
Jockey: Matthew Chadwick
Owner: Chu Nin-yiu
Rating: 91
Breeding: Arcano x Celestina Agostino (Street Cry)
Lifetime Record: 8:2-2-2
Hong Kong Record: 1:0-0-0
Overseas Name: Toruk
Overseas Trainer: Yan Durepaire, France
Best Performance: 3rd, Group Two Prix Eugene Adam (2,000m), Maisons-Laffitte, 19 July 2015
Last 10 Starts: -322x1513x0

WHY HE CAN WIN: His recent trial was top notch and flagged him as a potential dirt star of the future. He looks terrific in the mornings and there is no doubt there is some talent there.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: Terrible effort in the Classic Mile when racing up near the speed and racing quite fresh. Doubt he will be quite so fresh, but still not convinced pushing him forward is the way to go - yet trainer Tony Cruz has flagged that he will lead.

Watch King Genki finish third to Dariyan and Green Dispatch in the Prix Eugene Adam:


Trainer: Richard Gibson
Jockey: Chad Schofield
Owner: Pan Sutong
Rating: 90
Breeding: Lope de Vega x Mundus Novus (Unbridled’s Song)
Lifetime Record: 7:2-1-1
Hong Kong Record: 3:0-0-0
Overseas Name: Consort
Overseas Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute, United Kingdom
Best Performance: 3rd, Group One St James’s Palace Stakes (1,609m), Ascot, 16 June 2015
Last 10 Starts: -1x132x678

WHY HE CAN WIN: His best European form would give him a shout in this. The blinkers look to have settled him down in two recent trials and he does look to be extremely fit now. But it is a matter of taking him on trust.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: A gelding operation is desperately needed - he is way too colty. Doesn't look completely at home with the way Hong Kong races are run, not just yet anyway. Just yet to show on raceday that he has acclimatised. And the hype of a big day could easily get to him.

Watch Consort finish third to Gleneagles in the St James's Palace Stakes:


Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Zac Purton
Owner: Mr & Mrs Sebastian Man Shiu-wai
Rating: 90
Breeding: Savabeel x Zephyr Song (Danasinga)
Lifetime Record: 13:1-6-1
Hong Kong Record: 8:0-4-1
Overseas Name: Atmosphere
Overseas Trainer: Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young, New Zealand
Best Performance: Won, Listed UCI Stakes (1,800m), Flemington, 4 October 2014 (finished second, but winner Magicool later disqualified)
Last 10 Starts: 20x775x23222

WHY HE CAN WIN: He is extremely consistent and there is no doubt there is talent there, it just seems to be going to waste. He does get Zac Purton aboard, a jockey who has managed to get something out of horses when other jockeys can't. And he does have the best big race trainer in town in his corner, John Moore.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: Is he even capable of getting his head in front first? Yet to do it in a race, and while he does have a turn of foot, it needs to be timed exactly right - it can't be sustained for long. Just looks shy of the post, really. 

Watch Victory Magic finish second to Magicool in the UCI Stakes, a race in which he was later promoted to first:


Trainer: Chris So Wai-yin
Jockey: Douglas Whyte
Owner: Kwok Ho
Rating: 88
Breeding: Lope de Vega x Roscoff (Daylami)
Lifetime Record: 9:4-2-0
Hong Kong Record: 4:0-1-0
Overseas Name: Hero Look
Overseas Trainer: Stefano Botti, Italy
Best Performance: Won, Group Two Gran Criterium (1,500m), San Siro, 12 October 2014
Last 10 Starts: -111x21x2807

WHY HE CAN WIN: His best Italian form would make him intriguing...but no more than that.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: He has lost form and it appears he was screwed down for his debut effort. Also doesn't jump out as being a 2,000m horse. His recent trial was absolutely woeful. 

Watch Hero Look win the Gran Criterium:


Trainer: Tony Cruz
Jockey: Vincent Ho Chak-yiu
Owner: Li Wing-hon
Rating: 87
Breeding: War Front x Photograph (Unbridled’s Song)
Lifetime Record: 13:6-2-1
Hong Kong Record: 3:0-0-0
Overseas Name: War Dispatch
Overseas Trainer: Jean-Claude Rouget, France
Best Performance: 3rd, Group One Prix du Jockey Club (2,100m), Chantilly, 31 May 2015
Last 10 Starts: 1111326x000

WHY HE CAN WIN: Blinkers off should be a positive and his form out of the Prix du Jockey Club is probably the best pointer in this race.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: Hopelessly out of form and looks dour and one-paced, anyway. He has been rushed to make the Derby and it shows. Will be a fair while before he sees the winner's circle, once he has acclimatised.

Watch Green Dispatch finish third to New Bay and Highland Reel in the Prix du Jockey Club:


Trainer: John Size
Jockey: Karis Teetan
Owner: Larry Yung Chi-kin
Rating: 86
Breeding: Fastnet Rock x Mohican Princess (Shirley Heights)
Lifetime Record: 8:3-1-3
Hong Kong Record: 8:3-1-3
Overseas Name: N/A
Overseas Trainer: N/A
Best Performance: 3rd (dead heat), Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m), Sha Tin, 21 February 2016
Last 10 Starts: -43x123113

WHY HE CAN WIN: He is the only horse to have won over the course and distance and he looks to still have plenty of improvement in him. He shapes as being the best horse in this race in time. He is a game fighter that doesn't know how to back down. Larry Yung is the only owner in the modern era to have had more than one Derby winner. And he does have the leading trainer in town John Size in his corner.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: He looks overmatched in terms of the ratings. He's quite a dour horse, doesn't have the turn of foot of some of these and he could be outsprinted late. He's also a late northern hemisphere foal, and as the youngest horse in the field - still a three-year-old until June - this all looks like it is coming just a little too soon for him.

Watch Eastern Express win in Class Three in January:


Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Blake Shinn
Owner: Yvonne Lui Lai-kwan and Dr & Mrs Philip Ho Kin-hoi
Rating: 85
Breeding: Aussie Rules x Kirunavaara (Galileo)
Lifetime Record: 9:2-2-1
Hong Kong Record: 3:0-0-0
Overseas Name: Bartel
Overseas Trainer: Ed Vaughan, United Kingdom
Best Performance: 2nd, Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (1,609m), Newmarket (July), 9 July 2015
Last 10 Starts: -321x182x595

WHY HE CAN WIN: He has John Moore in his corner, while Blake Shinn is regarded as one of Australia's best tactical jockeys.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: Looks a blatant non-stayer and definitely doesn't appear good enough. 

Watch White Magic's last start fifth to Helene Paragon:


Trainer: Dennis Yip Chor-hong
Jockey: Silvestre de Sousa
Owner: Victor Cheng Hok-hung
Rating: 78
Breeding: Onemorenomore x Bani Yas (Zabeel)
Lifetime Record: 6:1-2-1
Hong Kong Record: 5:1-1-1
Overseas Name: More Soccer
Overseas Trainer: Mick Mair
Best Performance: Won, Class Three Hung To Handicap (1,600m), Sha Tin, 6 February 2016
Last 10 Starts: -2x0x5312

WHY HE CAN WIN: Probably the most intriguing of all 14 runners. A very promising animal with an electric turn of foot, he's clearly improving all the time and there's no indication that he's anywhere near finding his peak in the ratings yet. The trip should be right up his alley, too. 

WHY HE CAN'T WIN: This was an afterthought and he was only entered when there wasn't a capacity field. Seriously outclassed on the ratings and for such a big-striding horse, the inside barrier looks like a death trap. Also, only one local trainer has provided the winner of the Derby in the last 20 years - Dennis Yip's mentor Brian Kan Ping-chee, who prepared Industrial Pioneer in 2001.

Watch Lucky Girl's win in Class Three last month:

So, when all is said and done, who will The Griffin be tipping in the Hong Kong Derby?

It is hard not to see one of Giovanni Canaletto or Werther being sent out as favourite, but both have enough queries against their name to take them on and to try and get them beaten. 

Instead, we look to John Size to prepare back-to-back winners. But with who? Sun Jewellery is the logical selection, he has done everything right and just keeps raising the bar, but Eastern Express looks to have more upside and up to this trip, I think he'll prove mighty hard to run down. Don't be surprised though to see John Size run the quinella.

For third, at big odds, I'm hoping to see Lucky Girl run a big race. The inside draw is a major concern, but if De Sousa can miraculously manouevre his way off the rail heading onto the back, I'm going to be very curious to see the turn of foot this girl/boy unleashes. 

At this stage, we'll go with Helene Paragon for fourth, just ahead of Blizzard - although that's liable to change.

THE GRIFFIN'S HONG KONG DERBY SELECTIONS: 1. Eastern Express, 2. Sun Jewellery, 3. Lucky Girl