Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Preview: Hong Kong Vase

Defending champion Dominant is one of twelve entrants in what is one of the more diverse races of this meeting. A son of Cacique, Dominant has only won three times since first running in Hong Kong in 2012, but all three of those wins have come over this race's distance of 2400m. At first glance, he doesn't appear to be entering here in good form, but he never runs particularly well to start seasons, so I don't find it to be an issue. Plus, in his most recent run, he traveled really well throughout in what looked to be a true prep run. In a recent work, he looked fantastic, easily one of the best of the week when seen in company with Same World. He may not have done much to this point in the season, but he really looks to be peaking at the right time. 

Also representing the local runners is Willie Cazals, who has ran well in all three of his runs this season without winning. His most recent run looked an ideal prep with him running on well despite perhaps not being asked to run at his full potential. His closing kick is a strong one, which if he gets a clear run from the rear of the field, will come in handy. 

The only other local runner who interests me in this spot is Khaya. A first-up winner this season, Khaya typically runs over shorter distances than this, but has finished in the placings in all three attempts at 2000m or further. In fact, at his only attempt at this distance, he ran well to finish a close third despite missing the start and then finding himself having to rush up near the lead when wide and without cover early on. This will be his fifth run of the season and he enters here in good form after having finished second over 1600m, defeating the well regarded Divine Calling. Depending on the draw, Khaya could well get the box seat run behind likely leaders Bubble Chic and Curren Mirotic.

As for the international shippers, Flintshire most recently ran in the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he finished second to Main Sequence, who is undefeated since arriving in America. While you can't fault the company he's run in, the second place finishes are starting to add up as the Breeders' Cup Turf became his third runner-up finish in a row. In fact, he hasn't won since July of last year. By all accounts, he's looked fantastic on the grounds at Sha Tin and he holds a clear edge on the ratings over his fellow competitors, but it seems in deep stretch he always finds one too good. On class and form the one to beat, but can't fault those who take a stand against. 

The winner of this race in 2012, Red Cadeaux has once again traveled far and wide this season, but despite him finishing second in the Melbourne Cup (he LOVES Flemington), I don't see him as the same horse this season. He's struggled for the most part of the season and while it'd be great to see him run well, I couldn't have him betting-wise. 

Germany's runner Empoli enters here off a win in the Group 1 Preis Von Europa. While on paper he doesn't appear a win threat here, he's gone relatively close at big prices in high class races in the past, including a fourth in the Dubai Sheema behind Gentildonna. Similarly to Khaya, he could get a nice setup just in behind the speed and is capable of making the frame at a juicy price. 

Lastly, we'll give mention to Curren Mirotic, the Japanese winner of last year's G2 Kinko Sho, which was run over 2000m at Chukyo. He hasn't won since then, but his most recent runner-up finish behind Gold Ship in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen over 2200m at Hanshin was a fantastic result. Nobody was beating Gold Ship that day, but he showed a return to form running as close as he did. Definitely a pace factor, but could sneak in for a piece if they go slow early on. 

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