The locals hold the aces when it comes to the Longines Hong Kong Sprint, but they will face a host of worthy challengers with five of the six international raiders boasting a Group One victory to their name.
The “core four” of Lucky Bubbles, Mr Stunning, Amazing Kids and Thewizardofoz look to be the top hopes from Hong Kong and given the home team has won 12 of the past 15 renewals, it appears they have the edge.
Mr Stunning was terrific winning the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint on Sunday while Lucky Bubbles should have added the prefix “un-” to his name as his run was a complete disaster from the get-go.
The duo completed the quinella in Sha Tin’s most recent 1,200m Group One, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize in May, with the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Lucky Bubbles getting the edge on that occasion and he will be reunited with winning jockey Hugh Bowman on December 10.
Amazing Kids, who is one of four runners for nine-time champion trainer John Size, has returned to form with placings in his past two starts while stablemate Thewizardofoz is a supreme talent but only displays it when everything suits him.
Peniaphobia, the 2015 winner, headlines the rest of the runners from Sha Tin, which includes Not Listenin’tome, Blizzard and D B Pin.
The highest-rated internationals come from Europe with François Rohaut’s Signs Of Blessing back for another crack at the HK$18.5 million prize after finishing an encouraging fifth last year.
The French-trained six-year-old has won two Group Threes at Deauville this season after winning the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest in 2016.
The Tin Man, from the Newmarket stables of James Fanshawe, won the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, his second win at the top level having also claimed the British Champions Sprint Stakes the year before.
Didier Guillemin’s The Right Man also won one of the world’s premier speed events in 2017, taking out the Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, and comes to Hong Kong on the back of a Group Three win in France on November 1.
The Japanese have tasted success in this race before with the great Lord Kanaloa reigning supreme in 2012-13, and this year they will be represented by Sprinters Stakes placegetters Let’s Go Donki and Once In A Moon, who will be ridden by Zac Purton.
Peter Miller’s American sprinter Stormy Liberal rounds out the field and while those from the USA have traditionally struggled, he is arriving in hot form, having won three of his past four including the Group One Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar earlier this month.