Six U.S.-based horses are among the world-class cast of 127 overseas entrants for the 2022 Hong Kong International Races on Dec. 11 at Sha Tin.
The four Group 1 turf races - the US$4.3 million Hong Kong Cup, run at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), the US$3.8 million Hong Kong Mile (1,600m), the US$3.1 million Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m, or slightly over 6 1/2 furlongs) and the US$2.8 million Hong Kong Vase (2,400m, or about 1 1/2 miles - carry purses worth a total more than US$14 million.
A Wednesday news release by the Hong Kong Jockey Club listed the overseas runners.
Trainer Wesley Ward led the way among the U.S. contingent, with three entrants for the Sprint - Grade 1 winners Golden Pal and 4-year-old filly Campanelle, as well as Arrest Me Red. One Timer, a 3-year-old Grade 2 winner trained by Larry Rivelli, also was listed as an overseas entrant for the Sprint.
A number of the U.S. entrants also are expected to compete in the Breeders' Cup on Nov. 5 at Keeneland.
Japan led the way in the overseas contingent with 63 entries, including dual Hong Kong Vase (G1) winner Glory Vase and fellow top-liners Salios, Songline and Panthalassa, while Australia has 15 nominations headed by Nature Strip, the top-ranked sprinter in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, as well as recent Everest winner Giga Kick and Eduardo.
Aidan O’Brien has eight entries, notably Epsom Oaks (G1) winner Tuesday, Order Of Australia and Broome while Jessica Harrington has nominated Irish Oaks (G1) victor Magical Lagoon among a glittering combined entry from eight different regions – Japan, Ireland, Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, the United States and Singapore.
Offering record prize money this year, entries for the four Group 1 features will be bolstered on Oct. 24 with the close of nominations for Hong Kong-trained contenders, likely topped by Golden Sixty, California Spangle, Romantic Warrior and Wellington.
Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, the Hong Kong International Races continued under a closed loop system which allowed overseas-trained horses to successfully compete, including Japanese stars Loves Only You, Glory Vase and Danon Smash and Ireland’s Mogul.
The strength of this year’s international entry is evidenced by the Japanese contingent, which has risen from 40 in 2021 to 63 this year. The group features 17 individual Group 1 winners, including Hong Kong Sprint aspirants Gendarme and Naran Huleg, crack milers Salios, Songline and Schnell Meister, Geoglyph and outstanding stayers Glory Vase – the 2019 and 2021 Hong Kong Vase champion – Dubai Turf dead-heater Panthalassa and 2021Tokyo Yushun (G1) winner Shahryar and winner of Sunday’s Shuka Sho (G1) victor Stunning Rose.
Australia’s cast also includes Caulfield Cup (G1) winner Durston, Australian Cup (G1) winner Duais as well as fellow Group 1 victors Eduardo, Mr Brightside and September Run – and freshly-minted Everest star Giga Kick, who downed Royal Ascot King’s Stand Stakes (G1) conqueror Nature Strip at Randwick last weekend.
British Champions Sprint Stakes (G1) winner Kinross, who is raced by Hong Kong owner Marc Chan, heads the British representation and Ralph Beckett’s speedster has been entered in both the Hong Kong Sprint and Hong Kong Mile. Raced by Boniface Ho, Melbourne Cup (G1) entrant Deauville Legend is also part of a powerful British entry along with Saffron Beach, Emaraaty Ana and Dreamloper.
Pyledriver, runner-up in the 2021 Hong Kong Vase, could clash with Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) winner Alenquer, while top German stayers Mendocino and Sisfahan are also among the entries.
“We are delighted with the sheer quality and quantity of the international entry for 2022 Longines Hong Kong International Races," Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's executive director of racing, said in a statement. "With the entry to be completed next week by the very best Hong Kong has to offer, we are extremely grateful to receive significant support from all quarters of the international racing community."