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A Closer Look at the 2013 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup

Sha Tin 615 X 400
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Audemars Piguet QEII Cup – 2000m Sha Tin turf - $14,000,000 HKD ($1.8M USD)

 

In the midst of Kentucky Derby fever, it can be very easy to lose track of the global racing scene. In addition to the Hong Kong International races in December, there are two other large purse international Group 1 races hosted by the HKJC. The first is the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup contested at nearly ten furlongs on the Sha Tin turf. The second of the two races is the Champion’s Mile contested a week later over the same track. The timing of these races often helps dictate the end of season honors for Hong Kong based horses. The Hong Kong racing season runs from September through early July.

 

The prestige of these races, along with their very nice purses, tends to draw some of the world’s best globetrotters, and this year is proving to be no exception.

 

The allure of this race has drawn arguably the most successful horse from this year’s Dubai World Carnival. Sajjhaa has won all four starts at Meydan including her most recent display of dominance, which yielded a track record in the Dubai Duty Free (G1). She comes into Hong Kong hoping to make it five wins in as many starts this year. She has been training well and showing her charisma during the mornings in Hong Kong. She will be breaking from Post 8.

 

Some of the other international horses that make up the field are the Mike de Kock trained Treasure Beach and South African Champion Mare Igugu. De Kock is no stranger to this race, having won it in 1996 and 1998. Both horses have been training well since clearing quarantine and de Kock is especially optimistic about Igugu, whom he feels did not get to show her true potential in her three races in Dubai. The last of the international invaders is the Japanese based Eishin Flash, who is no stranger to Group 1 competition, having won two such races in the past and a runner up effort to Japanese juggernaut Orfevre.

 

One of the top Hong Kong hopefuls is California Memory, who draws the same #1 post that saw him to victory in the past two editions of the Hong Kong Cup (G1).  After the draw, trainer Tony Cruz had no comments about his gray horse’s draw, just a sly smirk. With a very short straight from the break to the first turn, inside post draws have proven very successful at the 2000m distance.

 

Trying to make it a second consecutive Group 1, the 4-year-old Akeed Mofeed will be attempting to carry his Hong Kong Derby form into the APQEII Cup for a double that won Ambitious Dragon Horse Of The Year in 2011. Despite this only being the fifth race in his season, this gelding by Dubawi is proving to be the best of his generation in Hong Kong. He could be a real threat to win this year’s race. He breaks from Post 4.

 

Military Attack has progressed this season looking to be a main contender to end of season honors with wins in the January Cup (HKG3), the Hong Kong Gold Cup (HKG1), and the Premier Plate (HKG3). He may not boast the resume of some of the other contenders, but if there is one long shot that has a chance to sneak a win from all the heavyweights, Military Attack appears to be that horse.

 

Two-time, reigning horse of the year, Ambitious Dragon is coming into this race as the Hong Kong horse to beat. Having another award winning season, he has won the Sha Tin Trophy (HKG2), Hong Kong Mile (G1), and Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (HKG1). His only other starts have resulted in a second and a fourth place finish when he suffered a minor injury. He will be breaking from Post 6.

 

In a surprise move, trainer Tony Millard has also entered Ambitious Dragon in the Champion’s Mile (G1) to be run a week after the APQEII Cup. Millard says, “There’s nothing for him afterwards, so he will have 5 months to recover.”

 

This comes as a disappointment to the Dragon’s fans that were hoping he would possibly become a summertime globetrotter. Regardless of summer plans, the ambitious springtime campaign for the defending back-to-back Horse Of The Year certainly has him living up to his name.

 

Rounding out the field for the APQEII Cup are Crackerjack (Post 2), Irian (Post 5), Wrath of Fire (Post 7), Thumbs Up (Post 9), Ashkiyr (Post 11), and Zaidan (Post 14).

 

Photo credit to the Hong Kong Jockey Club 

 

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Older Comments about A Closer Look at the 2013 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup...

That was a great race! Congrats to Military Attack, he is really developing into quite a horse. I was very impressed with the finish by Sajjhaa considering she missed the start. And as for Ambitious Dragon, he was sure coming with quite a rush before being interfered with...but thats racing. I wonder if Millard will wheel him back next week for the Champion's Mile?
Should add: Military Attack (Ire), g, 5 is trained by John Moore and was ridden by the young and talented Australian jockey Tommy Berry. Military Attack was a recent winner in the Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin on Feb. 24 and the 1800m Premier Plate H. carrying 133 pds. Mar. 24. This is Berry's first venture abroad -- so far so very good for the 22 yr old!
But it's Military Attack best of all! California Memory lasted for second from Japan's Eishin Flash, who finished well from last. Igugu did not show up when asked for her A game. Sajjhaa had a terrible break and Ambitious Dragon had terrible interferance. An exciting race none the less!
igugu is overrated simple as how many more chances are we supposed to give her..
@BrianZipse, If Igugu can overcome having drawn the widest PP in the field, I think she'll be seen to better effect at Sha Tin over 2000 meters than she was in any of her races in Dubai over 1800 meters. I always felt like the 1800 meters she was racing over at Meydan was a bit sharp for Igugu. I think she needs anywhere from 2000 to 2200 meters to be seen at her very best. Whereas, I think Sajjhaa is probably a bit better over the 1800 meter trip than she will be at 2000 meters. All that being said, if the real Ambitious Dragon shows up, California Memory may be the only horse in the field with the kind of turn of foot that could run Ambitius Dragon down over this distance, IMO.
love Sajjhaa and California Memories
Excellent field ... I'm still hoping Igugu can return to her best form.

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