The Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) is one of four races running at Sha Tin Racecourse this Sunday, making up the Hong Kong International Race Day.
Criterion’s chances at winning the HK$25 million race for Australia have been made that much harder after drawing awkwardly in barrier nine.
The four-year-old was the last horse to be drawn of the 12 runners but new trainer David Hayes is keeping positive, despite hoping for an inside barrier.
“Lost the toss there. Only two to go, three or nine and we were left with nine. Still, I guess he can stay out of trouble from there,” he told TVN.
After winning both the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) in the autumn, Criterion was a hot favourite to dominate during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. Yet despite six starts, the four-year-old couldn’t earn another win. He did finish runner-up in both the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) but failed to quicken in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) last time out, finishing four lengths off winner Happy Trails in fifth place.
Local hopefuls Designs On Rome and Military Attack were contesting favouritism in the betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au all week but it wouldn’t be surprising if Designs On Rome edged out in front after scoring barrier three ahead of Criterion while Military Attack will start from barrier eight.
Four-year-old Designs On Rome has made a name for himself at Sha Tin, winning three consecutive Group One races earlier this year. The entire missed out on the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) last time out by just over half a length but trainer John Moore believes he is ready to peak on Saturday.
“He’ll be at his peak on the weekend and he’s already shown that he’s right up there among the best horses in the world,” he said.
European galloper Farraaj was successful on his one start in Australia during the spring, finishing third in the Mackinnon Stakes and beating Hong Kong Cup rival Criterion, and looks set to have another successful run after drawing midfield in barrier six.
“I’m pleased. We can go forward into that first bend to take up a good spot and hopefully then be in a striking position turning for home,” said trainer Roger Varian.
Farraaj’s European rival for the Cup, Cirrus Des Aigles, fared better in barrier four.
Check out the complete 2014 Hong Kong Cup barrier draw below.
Betting markets for the Hong Kong International Race Day are due to reopen at Ladbrokes.com.au shortly so make sure your online betting account is open and ready to bet with.
2014 Hong Kong Cup Barrier Draw
|No||Horse||Country / Region||Barrier|
|1||CIRRUS DES AIGLES||FR||4|
|2||DESIGNS ON ROME||HK||3|
|12||HELENE SUPER STAR||HK||7|