The David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Criterion will represent Australia in the Hong Kong Cup 2014 field at Sha Tin Racecourse next month, the dual Group 1 winner one of 13 stayers in the mix for the December 14 classic.
Fields for all four of the Hong Kong International Races have been announced with over HK$38 million in prize money on offer across the LONGINES-sponsored meeting.
Twenty-five overseas raiders and 22 international Group 1 winners feature in the 51 selected gallopers for the quartet of Group 1 showdowns including two Australian raiders.
“The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is one of the most lucrative and prestigious days in the horseracing calendar, and, once again, the great talents that comprise the selections for our four Group 1 races illustrate that point,” said William A Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing.
“We have a slew of proven elite level horses coming to Sha Tin for world racing’s great end-of-year occasion, making up a total of 22 individual winners of 43 Group 1 races.”
Rob Heathcote’s Brisbane raider Buffering will contest the world’s most lucrative all-age 1200m sprint when he takes on the likes of Gordon Lord Byron, Sole Power and Japan’s Snow Dragon in the Group 1 2014 Hong Kong Sprint while Criterion will run in the HK$25 million Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Formerly with David Payne, Sebring four-year-old Criterion was last seen running fifth in the Mackinnon Stakes on November 1 after a hit-and-miss spring that didn’t produce a win.
He hasn’t won a race since the autumn but was in flying form then against his own age taking out the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) – Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) double in Sydney.
One of the headline Hong Kong Cup runners this year is headliner Cirrus Des Aigles, the veteran French champion in top form this year with three Group 1 races to take his total elite level wins to six.
Saturday will be his fifth appearance at the Hong Kong International Race Day.
There’s also an Australian connection to fellow HK Cup hopeful Farraaj, the Roger Varian-trained European running third in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) down under at Flemington behind Happy Trails this November.
The recent Group 2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) winner Blazing Speed is one of the top local hopes in the race out to reach the heights of his Group 1 wins in the Champions & Charter Cup over 2400m and the Stewards’ Cup over the mile last season.
Blazing Speed’s stable mate, dual Hong Kong Cup winner California Memory is out to make history with a third win in the race having saluted in 2011 and 2012 before missing last year’s race.
He ran fourth last time out in the Jockey Club Cup in an eye-catching effort, beaten only 0.6 lengths, he’ll be out to improve on here, as will third placed in that race Endowing who failed in this race last year on the back of a Jockey Club Cup win 12 months ago.
Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year, Designs On Rome is also sure to get plenty of attention in the Hong Kong Cup betting markets after the Holy Roman Emperor stallion’s wins in the Group 1 AP QE11 Cup and the BMW Hong Kong Derby over this course and distance back in March and April when ridden by Australian hoop Tommy Berry.
Former HK Horse of the Year Military Attack is another top chance this year having been defeated only a long neck by Blazing Speed in the Jockey Club Cup on November 23, with Aussie expat Zac Purton in the saddle, following a Group 2 win first-up over the mile.
The Casper Fownes-trained Oratorio six-year-old also ran a nose away second to Designs On Rome in the Group 1 AP QEII Cup when prepared by John Moore and third behind Dan Excel in the Singapore International Cup (2000m) in a trip to Kranji back in May.
The full list of 13 in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup field can be found below.
Australia’s fastest growing online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au will be opening betting on the Hong Kong races shortly so now is the time to open your account and get in on the ace international racing action happening next month!
2014 Hong Kong International Cup Field
Sha Tin Racecourse – Sunday December 14, 2014
Cirrus Des Aigles (FR)
Meiner Lacrima (JPN)
Blazing Speed (HK)
California Memory (HK)
Designs On Rome (HK)
Helene Super Star (HK)
Military Attack (HK)
Pleasure Gains (HK)
Same World (HK)