The HKIR will take place next Sunday, 9th December, at Sha Tin Racecourse. The day of racing will feature world class runners from Hong Kong, Japan, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, France and Singapore throughout 4 Group 1 races; The Hong Kong Cup, The Hong Kong Mile, The Hong Kong Sprint, and the Hong Kong Vase.
We will see 3/4 2017 champions defend their titles this year;
- Beauty Generation in the Mile (HK)
- Time Warp in the Cup (HK)
- Mr Stunning in the Sprint (HK)
The HKIR sees a large number of international starters year on year, and the 2018 event will be no different, with a string of 25 overseas raiders descending upon Sha Tin Racecourse.
Hong Kong Cup (HK$28m) - 2000m turf
Hong Kong's richest race and the centrepiece of the race card. The contest was previously called the Hong Kong Invitation Cup when it was first staged 30 years ago in 1988, and used to be restricted to horses from HK, Singapore and Malaysia.
The last UK trained horse to win the Cup was Snow Fairy in 2010 (under Ryan Moore for Ed Dunlop), and this year we will only see one UK raider; Stormy Antarctic, trained by Lambourn-based Ed Walker and it is suspected that James Doyle will be on board. The pair will be up against strong contenders, including 2017 champion Time Warp under Zac Purton.
Hong Kong Mile (HK$25m) - 1600m turf
Inaugurated in 1991, the second of Hong Kong's international races, was originally only ran over 1400m. Last year's winner Beauty Generation (Hong Kong's Horse of the Year and the world's highest-rated turf miler) will be defending his title against the foreign raiders.
For GB, we will see Oisin Murphy saddle Beat the Bank; trained by Andrew Balding and owned by King Power Racing. The pair have had some impressive wins this season including the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot and the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood. One Master will also be running in the Mile under Ryan Moore. The Haggas-trained miler delivered a solid run to win the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, and came a close fifth in the Group 1 Breeders' Cup Mile.
Hong Kong Sprint (HK$20m) - 1200m turf
One of just two of HK's Group 1 sprints. Mr Stunning will return to Sha Tin to defend his crown, and will be up against world-class sprinters including Hong Kong's Hot King Prawn and Godolphin's Fine Needle. Representing GB will be Sir Dancealot for David Elsworth, who has achieved an impressive four wins from 11 starts.
Hong Kong Vase (HK$20m) - 2400m turf
Ireland triumphed in 2017 with now retired Highland Reel for Aidan O'Brien. The trainer will be back this year with Rostropovich, whilst his son, Joseph O'Brien, is running Latrobe (Irish Derby 2018 winner). GB has four entries including Salouen under Oisin Murphy, the powerful duo which came second to the world's joint highest-rated racehorse, Cracksman, in the Group 1 Coronation Cup in June. Subject to availability, Ryan Moore may be partnering with Mirage Dancer for the Vase, the Group 3 Glorious Stakes winner at Goodwood. Red Verdon will be running for Ed Dunlop, who was recently in Australia for the Caulfield Cup, finishing 11th. Another globetrotter, Prince of Arran, who recently ran in the Melbourne Cup to finish a fine third, will be looking for victory for Charlie Fellowes.