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
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
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