Six of the invited runners for the April 27, 2014 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup made their most recent start at the Dubai World Cup meeting, including Dubai Duty Free second Vercingetorix and Dubai Sheema Classic second, and 2012 winner, Cirrus Des Aigles. Below is the edited press release from the Hong Kong Jockey Club after today’s announcement.
9 April 2014 – Hong Kong Jockey Club
An exciting field of world-class talent was unveiled at today’s (9 April) selection announcement for the HK$14 million G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup, which takes place at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday, 27 April.
The showcase race day is among Hong Kong’s most glamorous occasions, mixing elite sport with high-end chic, and this 20th international edition of the prestigious 2000m contest promises to be one of the hottest ever staged. Five top-class overseas raiders are set to take their places in the 13-strong field; among them the exciting South African champion Vercingetorix, France’s outstanding stalwart Cirrus Des Aigles, and the Japanese classic winner Epiphaneia.
“We have seen some brilliant champions carry off the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in the past, and with six individual international Group 1 winners and some exciting rising stars, this could be one of the strongest renewals we’ve ever had – it’s shaping up to be a real classic,” said Mr William A. Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing.
Last year’s AP QEII Cup victor Military Attack will have to replicate the brilliance he displayed 12 months ago if he is to become only the second horse to win back-to-back renewals. John Moore’s charge is currently rated the best 2000m turf horse in the world, but as well as a strong overseas challenge, Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year will have to contend with a home contingent brimming with established heroes and emerging stars, not least his own stablemate, this year’s outstanding BMW Hong Kong Derby victor Designs On Rome.
Designs On Rome will also face-off against his predecessor as BMW Hong Kong Derby champion, the Richard Gibson-trained Akeed Mofeed. The latter, a powerful five-year-old entire, proved his mettle on the biggest stage with success in December’s G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and was a solid fifth in the G1 Dubai World Cup recently. And in an eagerly anticipated clash of the generations, this year’s highly-regarded Derby third, the Michael Chang-trained Dibayani, will join Designs On Rome against their elders for a first tilt at all-age G1 company.
Japan’s horses are riding the crest of a wave on the international scene at present.Japan has carried off the AP QEII Cup three times previously with Eishin Preston (2002 & 2003) and the Katsuhiko Sumii-trained Rulership (2012), and Epiphaneia represents the Sumii stable this time. Last year’s G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) victor was runner-up in both the Japanese 2,000 Guineas and Japanese Derby in 2013, and warmed up for this task with a smart third to Kizuna in a Hanshin G2. Meanwhile, Uncoiled has useful form at the top level against the likes of Japan’s world stars Gentildonna andJust A Way.
Vercingetorix also represents some of the best international form available at this stage of the year. The four-year-old colt rounded out an unbeaten career in his homeland with success in the G1 Daily News 2000 (2000m) in June of last year and maintained his unbeaten streak in the G1 Jebel Hatta (1800m) at Meydan, Dubai, in March before running second to the outstanding Just A Way in the G1 Dubai Duty Free (1800m). Vercingetorix is joined by his G1-placed stablemate Sanshaawes as trainer Mike de Kock chases a third win in the race following Irridescence (2006) and Archipenko (2008).
Picture courtesy Cedric Lane – UAE Racing Photography
French star Cirrus Des Aigles, a three-time G1 winner and a four-time competitor at December’s Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin for trainer Corine Barande-Barbe, was also in action on Dubai World Cup night and showed that he is at the top of his form with a fine second to Gentildonna in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m), a race he won in 2012.
Hong Kong’s strong defence also includes the Moore-trained Dominant, winner of the G1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) in December, who ran on well from the rear to take fifth in the Dubai Sheema Classic last month, and Same World, who triumphed in the HKG3 January Cup at Happy Valley (1800m) earlier this year. Packing Whiz won the HKG2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) in 2013, while Endowing took the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) in November.
“With the field set to be a quality mix of top local and overseas runners, this race is certain to retain its place among the IFHA list of the World’s Top 50 Group 1 races. Going right back to 1995, the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup has a history of attracting high calibre runners from around the world and this year is no exception. We have an excellent mix of elite Hong Kong runners going up against top-class international competitors, all boasting tie-ins to the best form lines from Europe, South Africa,Dubai and Japan. This is what international racing is all about,” said Mr Nader.
“The AP QEII Cup day has become a not-to-be-missed uptown society event in Hong Kong and it is great that we are able to showcase fantastic world-class sport on such a glamorous occasion as this,” he added.