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Notable Hong Kong Imports from Aus & NZ

4 min read
The 2018-2019 Hong Kong season started on Sunday. Today we follow several horses purchased privately during the offseason--including a few with Hong Kong Derby aspirations--that could make headlines over the course of the next 10 months. We will look at privately purchased griffins in an upcoming column.

Hong Kong-based horsemen and bloodstock agents are always keeping a watchful eye on race results from Australia, and no stone is left unturned. And it isn’t just the metropolitan racetracks that yield horses deemed good enough to be sold to race at Sha Tin and Happy Valley. Not infrequently they have appeared at venues like Wyong and the Sunshine Coast, Cessnock and Taree.

FURORE (NZ) (4g Pierro x Stormy Choice, by Redoute’s Choice)

Formerly trained by Kris Lees, Furore kicked off his career modestly enough with a narrow maiden victory at Taree before adding benchmark wins at Cessnock, Gosford and Wyong. He was an outstanding third to D’Argento (So You Think {NZ}) in the G1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) in March, but was beaten better than eight lengths into sixth when last seen in the G1 ATC Derby (2400m) Apr. 7. A longer-winded half-brother to the classy recently retired HK-based sprinter Blizzard (Starcraft {NZ}), Furore will likely be set for a Derby campaign by second-season trainer Frankie Lor.

Furore as a yearling

GUERRIER (3c Epaulette x Flying Jet, by Jet Spur)

Winner of a Hawkesbury trial in mid-March, Guerrier graduated by about a length over 1300m in early April and outran his quote of $26 to finish fourth, beaten under two lengths by Seabrook (NZ) (Hinchinbrook), in his only other appearance in the G1 Champagne S. (1600m) at Randwick Apr. 21. Guerrier will be trained by Paul O’Sullivan.

IRISH BET (3c Smart Missile x Dublin Me Bet {NZ}, by O’Reilly {NZ})

Purchased on behalf of China Horse Club for a mere $55,000 out of the 2017 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, Irish Bet easily won a Warwick Farm trial in early December 2017 and followed with a 1.3-length victory as the $5 favourite in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery S.-LR (1000m). A latest third in a Rosehill handicap June 2, the half-brother to SW Fuld’s Bet (I Am Invincible) and to Rockstar Rebel (Rebel Raider)--second to Hong Kong-based Ruthven in the 2017 G1 Queensland Derby--Irish Bet has joined the Tony Cruz yard.

Irish bet winning the 2017 Inglis Nursery

RUN NAAN (NZ) (3g Makfi {GB} x Raneen {NZ}), by Perfectly Ready)

Campaigned heretofore as a homebred for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, Run Naan landed an early-season 1000m maiden at Bendigo at first asking and followed with a neck success in Flemington’s G3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m). Third in the Listed Blue Diamond Preview S. (1000m), the former Tony McEvoy trainee will continue his career in Hong Kong under the care of Ricky Yiu.

COPY BOY (4g Reward For Effort x Minnie Deal, by Street Cry {Ire})

An $80,000 purchase out of the 2016 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, Copy Boy was consigned to New Zealand Bloodstock’s Ready To Run Sale of 2YOs later that year, covered 200 metres in a flashy :10.68 and was hammered down for NZ$360,000, the joint fifth-highest price of the sale. No better than an $13 chance for his belated racetrack debut over 1000m at Canterbury this past May, he defeated the well-regarded Seasons (Sebring) to earn his way to Hong Kong, where he will be trained by Francis Lui.

WEONA NICCONI (NZ) (4g Nicconi x Rhandara, by Redoute’s Choice)

A NZ$30,000 purchase out of the NZB Weanling and Broodmare Sale in 2015, Weona Nicconi was acquired by David Ellis for NZ$170,000 at the NZB Select Yearling Sale and sent to Australia. Trained and part-owned by David Vandyke, the bay validated $2.15 favourtism to break his maiden at first asking at the Sunshine Coast last April and added a similarly easy score as a $1.50 pop at the same venue three weeks later. A maternal grandson of New Zealand MGSW Bhandara (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}), Weona Nicconi has been transferred into the capable hands of champion trainer John Size.

Weona Nicconi as a yearling