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2014 Singapore Airlines International Cup offers fascinating group

Sunday brings us the fourteenth edition of the Singapore Airlines International Cup (G1), a race that fills a unique position on the global racing calendar. Were early season performances signs of things to come, flukes, or a confirmation of the understood form? There are few races that compile a truly international cast in the midst of the season. This year, the SIA Cup expects a field of twelve, including a bulky set of eight foreign raiders, all with fascinating form coursing through their passports.

Where could the collateral form from the SIA Cup take us? What will it mean for some of the world’s best, including Designs on Rome, Variety Club, Treve, Cirrus Des Aigles,and current leader in the Longines World’s Best Thoroughbred Rankings, Dubai Duty Free winner Just A Way? The 2014 SIA Cup provides some unique insights for the rest of the world, with the stage being a 2,000-metre try over the Kranji turf.

First, let’s take a look back at last year’s race.

The top two runners from last year’s Cup are back to give it another go, with Military Attack making his eighth start of the season, having run each month since October 2013. His last two wins have come while trouncing countrymate Dan Excel, beating him a combined 6 ¼ lengths in both last year’s SIA Cup and then the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (HKG1) in February. Presuming you can ignore his tenth, beaten 13 from the all-weather gambit in the Dubai World Cup, he bounced back to run a very strong second in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1), just behind Designs on Rome and ahead of Jebel Hatta (G1) victor and Dubai Duty Free second Vercingetorix.

Dan Excel brings the form from the Champions Mile (G1) into this race. Third on May 4 behind Godolphin Mile (G2) winner Variety Club, he just lasted for second last year, but was about a length away from being sixth.

Tokei Halo is a Japanese speedball who really knows no other way. Come and catch him. In December’s Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1), he went to the front and backed the speed down as much as possible, and it almost worked, just getting caught by Akeed Mofeed.

The question will be – can he settle enough to see out the trip? In the Dubai Duty Free, Tokei Halo’s early pace was just slow enough to give him a near massive upset.

America is represented in Southeast Asia for the first time in nine years, this in the form of Darrell Vienna trainee Si Sage. Formerly based in France with Didier Guillemin, Si Sage ran a cracker in the Sir Beaufort Stakes (G2) on December 26 after being slammed at the top of the stretch by a rival, leading to a disqualification. As it was, Si Sage was beaten just a head when dismissed at 42-1 and shows a fighting spirit.

The sixth-placer in that race, Tom’s Tribute, came back to tie Wise Dan’s course record in an April stakes event after running a good second in the Arcadia (G2). A son of Sageburg, Si Sage is likely craving a series of classic Singaporean downpours, as he has success amongst much lesser company in France over very soft and heavy going. These are some deep waters for Si Sage, but it’s a sporting try to give it a shot. The only way one will really know if they belong is to take a shot.

Limario is a sneaky package in the SIA Cup. He was ninth beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Maktoum Challenge – Round 3 (G1) at Meydan, just behind eventual Dubai World Cup winner African Story. After that, Limario was sixth beaten less than three by the aforementioned Variety Club, who has of course gone on to slam his Hong Kong rivals. He is proficient on grass, though, with a series of group-level wins in Germany and should also appreciate some give in the ground. Below, you’ll find his last win, the Grosser Preis Des Audi Zentrums Hannover (G3) where he defeated new Qatari champion Dubday.

Side Glance only raced on four continents in 2013 – he was beaten 2 ½ lengths by Sajjhaa in the Dubai Duty Free, ran seventh behind Al Kazeem at Royal Ascot, was a solid third in the Arlington Million in America, then had a brilliant Jamie Spencer ride en route to a win in the Mackinnon Stakes (G1) at Flemington before going back to Asia and finishing less than two lengths from Akeed Mofeed in the Hong Kong Cup. This horse is one of the all-time warriors, with nothing but full credit to his connections for keeping him sound. Watch his Mackinnon win below.

Mull of Killough has won consecutive renewals of the Earl of Sefton Stakes (G3) at Newmarket over the straight course – in between he was fifth in this race last year, second at Ascot, eighth in the Arlington Million, and a best third from three starts in Melbourne, and then six lengths behind Variety Club in Dubai. Another gallant old trier, he gives it a good go and is rarely far from the finish.

The top form from France is in the spotlight with Smoking Sun. An early season winner in the Prix d’Harcourt (G2) at Longchamp, he was fourth, six lengths behind the awe-inspiring battle between Cirrus Des Aigles and Treve in the Prix Ganay (G1). Watch both races below.

Four local runners are expected, including 2013 Longines Singapore Gold Cup (G1) winner Tropaios, owned by the burgeoning China Horse Club, looking to regain some of his back form. Watch that race below.

Local Queen Elizabeth II Cup (SG-G2) winner Wild Geese, who made all in that race, returns with the second and fourth from that race, Johnny Guitar and City Lad, to complete the field.

Looking for more action? It will come in the form of the KrisFlyer International Sprint, as Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Sterling City pushes on against old veterans Balmont Mast and Medicean Man, joined by defending winner Lucky Nine and local progressive Zac Spirit.

DubaiRaceNight.com will be onsite all week and offer daily thoughts here.

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