The Longines Hong Kong International Races concluded today with Japan coming out way ahead. Sha Tin Racecourse packed in 80,8011 race fans to enjoy the 10-race event.
Highland Reel won the Hong Kong Vase, edging out Flintshire, Dariyan and Ming Dynasty who rounded out the top four in that order. It was a brutal battle between Highland Reel and Flintshire down the stretch, but the Irish-bred horse from trainer Aiden O’Brien was able to outlast the competition. It was the first win at the Hong Kong International Races for O’Brien as Highland Reel stormed from behind in the final one-hundred metres to win by 1 1/12 lengths.
The Hong Kong Sprint belonged to Peniaphobia, another Irish product, who shot out of the 10th post and was able to fend off the favoured Gold-Fun by a half-length at the finish line. Last year’s winner, Aerovelocity, finished outside of the top four instead giving way to Not Listenin’tome and Dundonnell.
A pair of American horses competed in the sprint event at the Hong Kong International Races, and did not seem to handle the travel nor the lengthy season too well. Mongolian Saturday, who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, placed 5th while Green Mask stumbled to 8th.
One of the biggest wins at the Hong Kong International Races belonged to Maurice, a stud from Japan who won the Hong Kong Mile. The race was billed as a head-to-head challenge between Maurice and Able Friend, who was the heavy favourite at 1.7. But Able Friend disappointed the crowd by ending third, as Giant Treasure rode the rail to slip in to second place. Maurice was a 4/1 second-favourite. This was the first time in a decade that the winner of the mile did not hail from Hong Kong.
A Shin Hikari won the Hong Kong Cup in a shockingly fast time of 2:00.60 in the 2,000 metre with the biggest upset of the Hong Kong International Races. Listed at 38/1, A Shin Hikari beat out Nuova Record and Blazing Speed and put forth one of the most surprising efforts of the day. Designs on Rome was the listed favourite, but finished fourth.
The day began with Jolly Jolly winning the Silent Witness Handicap. Happilababy followed up with a victory in the Fantastic Light Handicap. Wintson’s Lad also won the JJ The Jet Plane Handicap (my favourite race name from the day). Fabulous One ended the day of action at the Hong Kong International Races with a victory at the Lord Kanaloa Handicap.