By Jon Lees
Hong Kong: Despite a worldwide pandemic the Hong Kong Jockey Club has announced 162 nominations comprising 61 G1 winners from 10 different countries or regions for its December 13 showpiece.
Japanese superstar Almond Eye, withdrawn from last year’s Hong Kong Cup after a late setback, plus British and Irish Champion Stakes winners Addeybb and Magical, Everest winner Classique Legend and Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant are among the big names.
There is a strong local challenge too for the HK$95 million (£9.4m) Longines-backed International Races at Sha Tin, where the unbeaten Golden Sixty and hugely popular Beauty Generation feature in the Hong Kong Mile.
Other nominees include Grand Prix de Paris winner Mogul, among 24 three-year-old entries which also include Arc second In Swoop and Salios, a two-time runner-up to Contrail who recently became the third undefeated Japanese Triple Crown winner.
Japan took three of the four G1 features last year and two of those winners are entered to defend their crowns. Admire Mars could bid to win his fourth G1 in the HK$25 million (£2.4m) Hong Kong Mile, while Win Bright could have the chance to secure back-to-back HK$28 million (£2.7m) Hong Kong Cup victories.
Hong Kong’s champion sprinter Beat The Clock will bid for his fifth G1 and second consecutive HK$22 million (£2.2m) Hong Kong Sprint, while 2018 Hong Kong Vase winner Exultant will attempt to recapture his crown after finishing third to Glory Vase in last year’s edition.
Hong Kong Jockey Club executive director for racing Andrew Harding said: “Considering the current climate in regard to the COVID-19 situation, it just reiterates that the Longines Hong Kong International Races are recognised the world over as one of the global sport’s truly great events.
“To attract global stars like Almond Eye and Magical, is testament to how appealing Hong Kong racing is in the eyes of the world’s leading horsemen.”