Standby Dubai. The Hong Kong contingent expected for the 2015 Dubai World Cup meeting will be the best in history if all the chatter comes to fruition. Able Friend, trained by John Moore and ridden by the “Magic Man” Joao Moreira, powered away from his rivals to win the Longines Hong Kong Mile by 4 ¼ lengths, a performance that should see him in the conversation for one of the world’s top rated horses.
Moore was quick to reiterate that the plan is the Dubai Duty Free in March, preceded by a prep run at Sha Tin in the Stewards’ Cup. Moore acknowledged a “long lunch” might be required to convince Able Friend’s owners, Dr. and Mrs. Cornel Li Fook Kwan, to make the journey. But Moreira, in cracking form, said he is “the best horse I’ve ever sat on.”
Designs on Rome, the Hong Kong Derby (G1) winner, bested Military Attack in a repeat of the quinella from April’s Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) at course and distance.
The Moore/Moreira collaboration was back on the dais with this performance and the conditioner indicated Dubai was also on the docket for the winner. Designs on Rome is second from the right, just besting Military Attach, second from the left.
Earlier in the meeting, the Longines Hong Kong Vase (G1) went to Flintshire, a much deserved win for a galloper who rarely find the wire first. Second in both the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Flintshire bested long-prepped Willie Cazals in a race that lacked any meaningful pace.
Aerovelocity, last in the Jockey Club Sprint (G2), the local prep, behind a brutal rail trip, took the Longines Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in front-running fashion as the second choice on the commingled tote.
The first international Group 1 for trainer Paul O’Sullivan, this son of Pins was well ridden on the rail by Zac Purton. Jockey Club Sprint winner Peniaphobia was a solid second while ignored Japanese sprinter Straight Girl rallied for third.
Horses trained in Hong Kong claimed the quinella in three of the four international races, while running second, third and fourth in the Vase, a race arguably less than popular amongst the local contingent. 74,070 watched racing from Sha Tin on this gorgeous December Sunday compared to 63,744 in 2013, a 16.1% increase. The locals were well-rewarded with their support of the meeting, which actually often sees turnover down compared to all-local meetings.
Turnover at the meeting was HK$1.454 billion, up from the $1.364 billion in 2013, an increase of at least 6.5%. Local fixed-odds wagers are not included in that immediate total from 2014, so the increase was even greater, another testament to the continued success of the HKJC.
Photos were provided by Cedric Lane.
Our review of the impact of the meeting will come later in the week.