Japanese arrive in Hong Kong ahead of FWD Champions Day
A small but select team of five contenders from Japan will challenge the best of Hong Kong at FWD Champions Day (Sunday, 25 April), and overnight, the first four from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ touched down.
Daring Tact, Japan’s sixth Fillies’ Triple Crown winner contests the HK$25 million (approx. £2.34 million) G1 FWD QEII Cup, run over 10 furlongs at Sha Tin.
She arrives with impeccable form under her belt, three top-level wins ranging from eight furlongs to 12 furlongs. Following her Triple Crown sweep, she contested the 2020 G1 Japan Cup over 12 furlongs, finishing an impressive third to super mare Almond Eye.
First up in March, she returned to finish second at G2 level as a hot favourite but she did return slight excuses with the leader of the race dictating terms as she just missed on rain affected going, first-up for five months. Expect her to improve.
Almond Eye bows out with victory in the Japan Cup again! #競馬 @christo68914587 pic.twitter.com/Db5klsKHOs
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) November 29, 2020
Danon Smash and Kiseki also arrived from Japan, the former is chasing a third G1 win, while the latter returns for his second crack at Hong Kong glory after finishing a weakening ninth in the 2017 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase over 12 furlongs.
A consistent G1 performer across his career, it is also worth noting that his ninth-placed effort in Hong Kong was returned after being a) unlucky out of the gates and b) making sustained a mid-race move as the market’s second elect, both contributing factors to his finishing position.
And while older, an improved is expected, especially against only a small number of opponents with increased maturity and race experience on his side.
It will though, be interesting to see where he settles in the run, his Japan Cup antics suggest he might lead the field by 20 lengths at one stage of the race.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that Karis Teetan will partner with Silk Racing Co. Ltd’s Glory Vase, winner of the 2019 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase in the G1 FWD QEII Cup.
Japan take the Vase again! Glory Vase storms away from the field under Joao Moreira to win the Group 1 @LonginesEq Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin @HKJC_Racing pic.twitter.com/qXWO0vgYcc
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 8, 2019
David Hayes is in the groove
Buoyed by recent success, trainer David Hayes, in his second Hong Kong stint is hopeful that Metro Warrior can maintain his form this Saturday (17 April) at Sha Tin after returning a solid third over the course and distance last start.
“I thought it was a Hong Kong personal best - the two horses that beat him (Winner Method and Brilliant Fortune) are destined for much higher class,” Hayes said of the four-year-old’s performance on 28 March.
A first-up winner this campaign, Metro Warrior is to be paired with Champion Jockey Zac Purton, who also rode him to that victory upon resumption.
“He ran exceptional time, breaking 56 seconds (55.75s). He looks like he’s held his form and he’s got Zac Purton so I think he’ll run a good race,” Hayes added.
Hayes’ has four wins this month from Trader, Fearless Fire, Showina and Fantastic Treasure, enhancing his tally this term to 18.
Antoine Hamelin has faith in When You Believe
Budding talent When You Believe is still searching for his first Hong Kong win but jockey Antoine Hamelin - who drove him to finish third last start - is optimistic about tomorrow’s assignment.
“He finished very well last time (when third to Valiant Dream and Brilliant Fortune at Sha Tin on 13 March) and we’re happy with him,” Hamelin said.
Two for Teetan!@KarisTeetan bags a double as Valiant Dream delivers narrowly. ✌️ #HKracing pic.twitter.com/yVhCChzUUO
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 13, 2021
The Fighting Sun galloper was Listed-placed in Australia pre-import where he was a four-time winner from eight runs. He has since had three runs in Hong Kong, the latest, a fast-closing third down the straight.
“His trial (on 9 April) was nice also, he finished second. The signs are looking very good,” Hamelin said.