Hong Kong Cup preview

3 min read

By Alan Carasso

The Pick

Japanese-based runners have won various iterations of the Hong Kong Cup no fewer than five times and twice in the last three years, including A Shin Hikari (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in spectacular front-running fashion in 2015 and Horse of the Year Maurice (Jpn) (Screen Hero {Jpn}) the following December.

The island nation accounts for a third of the entrants in this year’s renewal and Sungrazer (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) gets the slight nod. Victorious in a soft-turf running of the G3 Swan S. in 2017, Sungrazer was a close third to Persian Knight (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) in the G1 Mile Championship last November. Though he defeated Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}) in course-record time of 1:31.3 in the G2 Yomiuri Milers Cup this past April, he successfully stretched out to the 2000 meters to best 2016.

G1 Tokyo Yushun hero Makahiki (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G2 Sapporo Kinen and exits a good second to 2017 Tokyo Yushun winner Rey de Oro (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}) in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) (2000m) at Tokyo in late October.

The Contenders

Will the real Time Warp please stand up, please stand up? The big chestnut could not have been more impressive in leading throughout in last year’s race and became the first to break the 2-minute barrier when winning the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup a few months later. He’s had four runs already this term, suffering three defeats by a combined 43 lengths, but when he’s allowed to bowl along at his own speed, he’s tough as nails, as evidenced by his tenacious victory over full-brother Glorious Forever in the G2 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse H. (1800m) in early November.

The latter has been sworn off the same speed duel that cost him and his brother any chance in the G2 Jockey Club Cup last time, but having drawn gate one, he may have to go to have his best chance. Deirdre (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) looks to become the first female to win the Cup since Snow Fairy (Ire) (Intikhab) in 2010.

Winner of the 2017 G1 Shuka Sho over this trip, she was third to Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G1 Dubai Turf earlier this year and was last seen pegging back the classy Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) in the G2 Fuchu Himba (1800m) in Tokyo Oct. 13.

The Roughie

Hong Kong-owned Stormy Antarctic (GB) (Stormy Atlantic) is ostensibly better over a mile, but did stretch out to 2000m to be runner-up to Benbatl in the G1 Bayrisches Zuchtrennen in Germany earlier this summer. Twice a group winner at 1600m this term, he was third to Oscar Performance (Kitten’s Joy) in the GI Woodbine Mile in September and a game fourth at 40-1 to Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy) in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. at Ascot.

The Selections

Sungrazer, Deirdre, Stormy Antarctic