The races to watch in Hong Kong


The shock scratching on Friday of the world's top-rated horse, Cirrus Des Aigles, due to a left-fore tendon injury has robbed the Hong Kong International meeting of its headline act but boosted the prospects of diminutive locally trained stayer and defending champion California Memory.

The six-year-old has been plagued by leg problems but returned to form last start winning the group 2 Longines Jockey Club Cup and the grey has drawn the fence, the same gate he won from last year.

French Derby winner Saonois and top-class filly Giofra, along with Australian-bound Carlton House, look the other major contenders while eight-year-old Alcopop will fly the Australian flag and has pleased trainer Jake Stephens since arriving in Hong Kong.

Tips: California Memory 1; Giofra 2; Saonois 3; Carlton House 4.


Locally trained horses have dominated the mile in recent years and much will rest on the shoulders of dual Hong Kong horse-of-the-year Ambitious Dragon, who drew awkwardly in barrier 11.

Despite finishing fourth in last year's Hong Kong Cup (2000 metres) the son of Pins began his campaign this season with an impressive group 2 victory in October before finishing runner-up to the John Size-trained local Glorious Days last start.


With a two-kilogram pull in the weights, Glorious Days appreciated blinkers to beat Ambitious Dragon in the group 2 Jockey Club Mile last start by 1½ lengths but the pair meet at level weights on Sunday.

Trainer John Moore, who caused a boilover by winning last year's mile with Able One, has a numerical advantage with three runners this year, including two-time group 1 Champions Mile winner and local favourite Xtension (third last year), rising star Packing Whiz and Packing OK.

Tips: Ambitious Dragon 1; Glorious Days 2; Packing Whiz 3; Xtension 4.


Defending the title he won here last year, Dunaden will be out to erase his Melbourne Cup disappointment when 14th to Green Moon after a slack tempo ruined any prospects the talented French stayer had.

Before his Melbourne Cup failure the six-year-old unleashed a paralysing sprint from back in the field to win the Caulfield Cup and is adept on all surfaces.

French-trained horses have dominated the Vase with five wins in the past six years but the three-time group 1 winner's main rival looks to be the Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old Sea Moon, who three starts back easily held off Dunaden to win the group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot, but is yet to open his group 1 account.

Front-runner Dancing Rain, who won the 2011 group 1 Oaks at Epsom may lack the class of some of her rivals but could prove hard to run down if she gets her own way in the lead while Red Cadeaux finished best of the foreign horses in the Japan Cup last start and finished third (dead-heat) in last year's Vase.

Tips: Dunaden 1 Sea Moon 2 Dancing Rain 3 Red Cadeaux 4


Aussie hero Falvelon won the inaugural International Sprint in 2001 but in the 12 subsequent events, locally prepared horses have scored 10 times.

The 2012 edition is again dominated - in numerical terms - by the home country (eight of 11) but the Randwick-prepared Sea Siren looks the one to beat. The mare has impressed in her work at Sha Tin and, from barrier seven, Jim Cassidy will be looking to track the pace - a la Manikato Stakes night - to the turn and make one sharp, telling sprint. She's the right mare, in the right form at the right time. The John Moore-prepared Time After Time will carry vast local support.

He's been a progressive type in recent times and finished with gusto when second to Lucky Nine in the group 2 Jockey Club Sprint at Sha Tin on November 18. He's well placed in barrier three and Douglas Whyte will have a keen eye on Sea Siren from the start.

Gate 10 has done defending champion Lucky Nine no favours but he showed he's back to best form with the Jockey Club Sprint win and he's got Brett Prebble to navigate. Also drawn wide is Singaporean hero Super Easy.

The colt boasts an imposing 13 wins from 17 starts but failed in the Jockey Club Sprint won by Lucky Nine. He's much better than that and is tactically versatile and handles any conditions.

Tips: Sea Siren 1; Time After Time 2; Lucky Nine 3; Super Easy 4.