Hong Kong Horseracing News

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Zac Purton has crowned a week of stellar milestones by becoming the first rider in history to partner nine LONGINES Hong Kong International Races winners after Japanese mare Normcore upstaged Win Bright and Magical in the HK$28 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

Purton, 37, gained the ride on the grey after Christophe Soumillon was forced to forfeit the mount after failing to secure an unconditional release from quarantine following a COVID test on Thursday.

On Wednesday at Happy Valley, Purton became only the second jockey after Douglas Whyte to ride 1,200 winners in Hong Kong.

The reigning jockey champion, Purton was jubilant after breaking the Hong Kong International Races’ tie he had shared with Frenchman Gerard Mosse after Normcore outsprinted fellow Japan’s Win Bright and Ireland’s Magical.

“It’s something I’m very proud of, it’s a great achievement,” he said.

“To also now be the only jockey to win the full set of international races twice is also for myself somewhat rewarding.

“Hopefully, I can just can continue to have luck at this meeting going forward.

“It’s been a great week, I’m very thankful that I get these opportunities.”

Purton was grateful to regain the ride on Normcore, whose previous G1 triumph came in the Victoria Mile when partnered by another Australian, Damian Lane, in May 2019.

“Initially we sort of confirmed the ride and then when it was announced Christophe was coming, they changed their mind. They’re entitled to do that,” Purton said.

“It was what it was, I just had to accept that. Thankfully, it came back.”

Purton has been synonymous with LONGINES Hong Kong International Races success with eight previous triumphs on the jurisdiction’s most prestigious day.

The New South Welshman savoured Vase glory with Dominant (2013) and Exultant (2018), the Mile with Ambitious Dragon (2012), Beauty Only (2016) and Beauty Generation (2018), Sprint with Aerovelocity (2014 and 2016) and the Cup with Time Warp in 2017.

Purton stalked the 2019 Cup winner Win Bright in the run before peeling widest in a riveting global contest.

Japan’s three runners finished in the top four, with Danon Premium trailing Magical to the line.

“She (Normcore) had to fight for it, Win Bright gave a really sharp kick and his love for Sha Tin was starting to show through,” Purton said.

“But she was determined and inch by inch, she just kept putting herself in the frame.”

Trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara, Normcore ran fourth to Admire Mars in last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

Hagiwara has handled several topliners since taking out a trainers’ licence in 1996, including Logi Universe, Le Vent Se Leve and Obruchev.

Ryan Moore said a slackening mid-race tempo wrecked Magical’s chances of becoming the first horse trained by Aidan O’Brien to snare eight G1s.

“There was a lack of pace so therefore I couldn’t go where I wanted to go,” Moore said.

“She ran well.”

Normcore is the first filly or mare to win a HKIR since Ed Dunlop’s champion Snow Fairy took the Cup in 2010.

Danon Smash follows Lord Kanaloa’s footsteps with Hong Kong glory14 Dec 2020

Danon Smash followed in the footsteps of his sire Lord Kanaloa with a thrilling victory for Japan in the 2020 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), their third in the HK$22 million contest’s 21-year history.

“It is a very pleasing moment that Lord Kanaloa and Danon Smash, sire and son could achieve their Hong Kong wins – it’s a happy moment,” said Mr. Chaki, trainer Takayuki Yasuda’s representative.

Lord Kanaloa landed Sha Tin’s premier dash twice in 2012 and 2013, and was also trained by Yasuda, and today Danon Smash joined the honour roll with a gritty success under Ryan Moore, who one race prior, secured the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) aboard Mogul.

“We got lucky – he stepped very well and we managed to slot into a lovely spot, I was always happy and when the pace steadied around the bend, I was able to just move out and keep moving forward and he got there in plenty of time,” Moore said.

The Lord Kanaloa five-year-old broke cleanly from the widest gate of 14 to sit midfield under Moore, who peeled out at the 300m mark to grind his way to a half-length victory in a time of 1m 8.45s, staving off the fast-finishing Jolly Banner in second, while Rattan rattled into third.

“He was very tough and very honest – he was a pleasure to ride and he’d shown very good form at times in Japan’s best sprints and at seven furlongs as well he’s won some of the best races at Group 2 level and he deserved to win his Group 1,” Moore said.

The speedy bay has finished third and second in the last two editions of the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama, and is a four-time G3 winner and two-time G2 victor.

“I’m delighted and just thankful for being asked to ride him and I also need to thank the owners Danox and Mr Yasuda certainly knows how to prepare a sprinter for a Hong Kong Sprint,” the British ace said.

The 114-rater landed the 10th win of his career today, and followed last start’s runner-up effort to Gran Alegria with a triumph today, his first at the top-level after eight attempts.

“I gave him a gentle breeze on Wednesday morning – it wasn’t anything strenuous, there was no real comments to say, no one was worried by anything about the horse but no one was overly bullish about the horse,” Moore said.

Today’s pair of wins takes Moore’s tally to seven at the Hong Kong International Races, the most any international-based rider in history.

“I think when he got the draw we were all possibly a bit worried and we needed to see what happens and thankfully everything worked his way and we just had a bit of luck and everything worked out nicely,” Moore said.

Classique Legend battled on for 11th, while favourite Hot King Prawn was overhauled and faded to finish seventh as the dominant 2.1 market elect.

While Hong Kong’s current sprinting ranks were on show in the HK$22 million contest, the future was on show four races later as Winning Dreamer extended his unbeaten record to a perfect six with victory in the aptly named Class 2 Lord Kanaloa Handicap (1200m).

The speedster charged to a comfortable one-length victory, while Sky Field could only manage sixth.

“I’m thinking the first of January, there is a 1400 metre race at G3 level to see if we can know more whether he can step up to 1600 metres,” trainer Frankie Lor said.

The G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) on 1 January, 2021 will see Winning Dreamer put his Hong Kong Classic Mile credentials on the line, or, if the son of Deep Field will keep to the sprint distances.

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‘Mature’ Tower Of London looks to boss his rivals in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint11 Dec 2020

Godolphin’s leading man William Buick will take the reins aboard the only Group 1 winner in Sunday’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) as he looks to replicate Pakistan Star-like heroics aboard Tower Of London in the HK$22 million dash.

“It was a great day – it was a lucky ride for me [aboard Pakistan Star], I picked him up last minute and it was a fantastic day,” Buick said.

Buick won the 2018 G1 QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin aboard the mercurial galloper and,this weekend he’ll return to the big stage in Hong Kong to reunite with Japan’s Tower Of London for the first time in just over two years.

“He feels like he’s matured – when I rode him in Tokyo he came off the back of a lay off and the race didn’t actually pan out for him that day but he ran home strong and he really showed some good form after that run,” Buick said.

Buick rode the speedster on 24 November, 2018 – one day before Almond Eye won her first G1 Japan Cup (2400m) – and the pair finished a close-up second in the Listed Capital Stakes (1600m) at Tokyo.

“But I felt that the difference between when I last rode him and now is that he’s a horse who has really matured and he looks like a proper sprinter now,” Buick said.

The talented five-year-old has been sparingly raced with only 17 starts to his name but has a trio of G2s among his haul, as well as the 2019 G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama.

“He looks very well, he looks like he’s travelled over very well – the connections are happy with him and what I felt this morning, I suppose it was a routine bit of work but he had a nice kick up the stretch and I was really happy with him – he moved well and showed his wellbeing,” Buick said.

Buick paired the Godolphin charge for a hit-out of the grass yesterday (Thursday, 10 December) at Sha Tin, galloping 800m on the turf in 50.3s (27.7, 22.6).

“I think he’s fit and ready to go – I wouldn’t have any doubts about that, this morning [Thursday] was his final serious piece and I think the whole idea was to put him spot on for Sunday,” the 32-year-old said.

While aboard the only G1 winner in the race, Buick remains wary of the competition and he will have to break from gate 12 among the field of 14, which includes Hot King Prawn, Classique Legend, Computer Patch and Danon Smash.

“I think he has a good chance – it’s a tough race, you have the other Japanese runner Danon Smash and obviously the local horse Hot King Prawn who is obviously going to be a hard horse to beat on home ground and Classique Legend as well, it’s a top-class sprint as you would expect,” Buick said.

Buick’s other G1 mounts include Playa Del Puente in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m), as well as fellow Japanese runner Danon Premium in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

“I was very pleased to pick up the ride on Danon Premium – I think he’s got some great form and his last run in the Tenno Sho Autumn when he was fourth behind Almond Eye I think that’s probably as good form as any in the race,” Buick said.

That form was franked 28 days later as Almond Eye raced clear with her second Japan Cup triumph and, in doing so, got the better of the brilliant Contrail and Daring Tact, as well as last year’s Hong Kong Vase winner Glory Vase.

“Obviously Magical is a very consistent high-class filly – she never ever runs a bad race so she probably is the overall pick,” Buick said.

Sunday’s HK$28 million contest will be the son of Deep Impact’s second venture abroad following a game third to Addeybb in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick Racecourse in April this year.

And that horse, Addeybb, managed to get the better of Magical in the G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes (1993m) at Ascot in October as O’Brien’s super mare could manage only third, while Skalleti, who also lines up on Sunday, finished between the pair.

“I’m very happy with Danon Premium and if he runs to his best I’m sure he’ll run a great race. Obviously Furore is coming into the race off a strong win – so again he has the local advantage being based here.”

“It’s not going to be an easy race but I’m very happy with the horse I’ve picked up,” Buick said.

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Japanese contenders arrive for LONGINES Hong Kong International Races(2)07 Dec 2020

LONGINES Hong Kong International Races contenders Normcore, Tower Of London and Win Bright arrived in Hong Kong from Japan today (Saturday, 5 December).

(The photo is Win Bright (LONGINES Hong Kong Cup))

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Win Bright and Admire Mars shoot for a LONGINES HKIR repeat04 Dec 2020

The one thing we have seen of the Japanese racing in the past decade is a growing hunger to travel abroad, but while 2020 has not been kind to Japanese raiders, a strong but small team entered for the 2020 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races could change that.

Nearly a dozen horses were stranded in Dubai after the races were called off at the last minute; others interested in heading to Europe or America in the spring were unable to travel later in the year on saw long travel delays and significant risks.

Ultimately, though, the Japanese are just as determined to travel to Hong Kong for the International Races they love (and often win), this time bringing a team of six, featuring two previous HKIR winners, three other G1 winners and a G1 placegetter, all venturing to participate in their favourite year-end international meet.

The Japanese assault is headlined by Win Bright and Admire Mars, two returning HKIR champions from 2019. Both horses had much of their 2020 ravaged by the pandemic as they flew to Dubai in March, only for the Dubai World Cup meeting to be cancelled immediately after they cleared quarantine at Meydan. It took a little over a week to get them back home, leaving their late spring and early autumn in chaos.

Admire Mars was looking to make his 2020 debut in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) on Dubai World Cup day, but with all that prep and the two-week stint in limbo at Meydan, he lost all opportunity to race in Japan’s spring and summer months.

He made his first start of 2020 in the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m), a tall order for any horse making their first start of the year against the country’s best milers. He stalked the pace well early on but was overtaken by five other G1 winners to finish sixth.

The Yasuo Tomomichi-trained colt was spelled for another few months after that poor performance to start afresh in the autumn. He came back in the G2 Swan Stakes (1400m) in October, where he held on for third before going on to the G1 Mile Championship at Hanshin in late November, where he again posted a third.

“He has had two solid runs so far, so we have him set up to peak in Hong Kong. I think he is physically better this year than he was last year when he won,” Tomomichi said.

“Christophe Soumillon is set to ride him again,” Tomomichi added.

Before his stunning victory last year, Admire Mars had only one start where he finished a lackluster ninth in a G3 two months before travelling to Hong Kong and Tomomichi feels confident his colt will blossom again when he gets back to Sha Tin.

Win Bright had only one start in the spring before shipping off to Dubai, where he finished seventh in the G2 Nakayama Kinen, a race he had won in the past two years. The Dubai mishap meant he didn’t make another start until the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) in October, where he finished 10th. While those two finishes could easily make any punter wary, Win Bright’s brightest moments have all come in Hong Kong.

Last year, the Yoshihiro Hatakeyama-trained entire went to Hong King twice to win both the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) and the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup, despite running poorly in Japan in-between. He clearly loves Hong Kong in the best ways and his stable would expect a big run from the son of Hong Kong Vase winner Stay Gold.

“The horse is doing quite well, much like last year. He wasn’t quite at his best leading up to the Tenno Sho Autumn, even more so this year with so much time between races,” Hatakeyama said.

“Then again, just like last year, he came out of the Tenno Sho Autumn in fantastic condition, so we are pleased that we have the opportunity to race again in Hong Kong despite the pandemic.”

The steely grey six-year-old is two for two at Sha Tin over 2000m and aims for a third in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

“He has missed so much racing this year, it would be a shame not to be able to run him when he is at peak fitness.”

“He went out today with his jockey for his final work in Japan, and he is a completely different horse from where he was a month ago. He is in a similar place physically now as he was last year – we will try our best and hope to make his last run a winning one.”

“Masami Matsuoka will travel over for the Cup again this year, even though he will have a two-week quarantine upon returning to Japan, he felt the Hong Kong Cup and Win Bright are worth taking the rest of the year off for – it is very kind of him, we will try our best and hopefully come home with good results again.”

Rounding out the Japanese contingent at the 2020 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is Danon Premium, Normcore who also contest the Hong Kong Cup, while Danon Smash and Tower Of London tackle the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

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Japanese contenders arrive for LONGINES Hong Kong International Races03 Dec 2020

LONGINES Hong Kong International Races contenders Admire Mars, Danon Premium and Danon Smash arrived in Hong Kong from Japan tonight (Wednesday, 2 December).

(The photo is Admire Mars (LONGINES Hong Kong Mile))

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Hong Kong Race Info

Wed,27 Jan 2021 Happy Valley
R Post Time Race Name Class Distance Track No.of
- -- -- A HANDICAP C2 1650m TURF 12
- -- -- B HANDICAP C3 1000m TURF 13
- -- -- C HANDICAP C3 1650m TURF 13
- -- -- D HANDICAP C4 1000m TURF 23
- -- -- E HANDICAP C4 1200m TURF 18
- -- -- F HANDICAP C4 1650m TURF 18
- -- -- G HANDICAP C5 1200m TURF 18
- -- -- H HANDICAP C5 1650m TURF 18
- -- -- E HANDICAP C4 1200m TURF 17

Tip Coliseum Hong Kong

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Rank Tipster Name Tipster
No.of Tips Highest Payout Win
Dream.limelight Dream.limelight
102 2,386R $9,292 49% 0
Sonomama Sonomama
101 1,969R $35,270 17% 0
Woodstock Woodstock
100 1,897R $27,450 18% 0
coron. coron.
98 1,266R $10,400 45% 0
1166KAZU 1166KAZU
96 2,702R $58,485 19% 0

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Rank Tipster Name Deviation No.of Tips Hit Rate Return Rate Winnings Nice
72.9 57R 26% 225% $67,167 0
64.5 68R 44% 102% $1,793 1
5f73de5c33 5f73de5c33
63.8 68R 23% 102% $1,930 1
294fd50cea 294fd50cea
62.9 68R 32% 101% $1,012 0
Yuji Fujisawa Yuji Fujisawa
62.8 64R 20% 99% $-480 0

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