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Japanese superstar Maurice is clear favourite at bookmakers around the world to take out the Hong Kong Cup 2016 at Sha Tin Racecourse this Sunday on the Hong Kong International Race Day.
The HK$25 million (AUD$4.3m) Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) is the richest of four feature races on the December 11 card and features a final field of 14 hopefuls.
Heading the line-up are the Japanese-trained duo of the Noriyuki Hori-trained Maurice and A Shin Hikari who pay $2.50 and $6.50 respectively in the latest Hong Kong Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Screen Horse stallion Maurice returns 12 months on from his class win over Hong Kong champion Able Friend in last year’s Hong Kong Mile, while Deep Impact grey A Shin Hikari is back to defend his Hong Kong Cup title after a smashing all the way win in the classic in 2015.
The sole horse to enjoy wins in different Hong Kong International Races was French champ Jim And Tonic who took out the HK Mile (1998) and the HK Cup (1999).
This hoodoo is one the 2015 Japanese Horse of the Year Maurice is well fancied to overcome as he attempts the same feat with success in the latter on Sunday, the galloper coming off a last start win at home in the Tenno Sho (2000m).
The Masanori Sakaguchi-trained A Shin Hikari meanwhile is out to become just the second horse to win the race more than once joining Hong Kong’s heroic grey California Memory (2011 and 2012).
His win in a smart 2:00.6s last year was flying and he’s enjoyed some stellar international form this year including a 10 length romp home in Europe’s Group 1 Prix d’lspahan in the mud.
He does need to show notable improvement off his two lead-up runs however including the disappointing 12th behind Maurice in the Tenno Sho last time out.
Japanese duo face an onslaught of Group 1 winning gallopers from right around the globe including the Keiji Yoshimura-trained four-year-old mare from Japan Queens Ring ($6.50), fellow Japanese galloper Lovely Day ($13) to be ridden by Aussie hoop Hugh Bowman and the 2014 Hong Kong Cup winner Designs On Rome ($15) to be ridden by Joao Moreira.
Other standouts in this year’s Hong Kong Cup field include another classy Japanese raider Stephanos ($8.50) chasing a maiden Group 1 win on the back of a Tenno Sho third and the Dennis Yip-trained Secret Weapon ($11).
Secret Weapon comes off a win in the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup with Nash Rawiller in the saddle and if the pace is on shapes up as a livewire hope again as Zac Purton comes aboard for the ride.
Head to Australia’s premier online betting site Ladbrokes.com.au now for the full Hong Kong Cup 2016 betting odds and latest offers on all the international features at Sha Tin on Sunday.
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