The 2015 Hong Kong Cup was dominated by Japan, who had the first and second in the world’s richest turf race over 2000m. A Shin Hikari, who went off at 39.0 in the betting, strung the upset when scoring by a length ahead of the Japanese-trained Nuovo Record.
A Shin Hikari went into the Hong Kong Cup with just five runs under his belt so fairly unexposed at this level. All five of his outings have come from his homeland of Japan with his career best before his Sha Tin victory coming in the Grade Two Mainichi Okan at Tokyo.
The Masanori Sakaguchi-trained runner was fancied for the Grade One Tenno Sho at Tokyo but disappointed by coming home in ninth place of the 18 runners.
Jockey Yutaka Take took the lead very early in the Hong Kong Cup with his mount in what was a strong gallop and was over three lengths clear with 200 metres to go from which he was eventually chased home by Nuovo Record.
More success for Japan in Mile
Earlier in the evening at Sha Tin, Maurice edged out a tight finish in the Hong Kong Mile. The four-year-old was partnered in the saddle by UK-based jockey Ryan Moore who added more global success to his name in 2015.
Moore opted to keep his horse in midfield in the early stages of the race but came out of the pack with 300 metres to go and hit the front with just 100 yards left in the contest.
Giant Treasure was one of a handful of horses which were chasing Maurice down in the closing stages but could only get within a length at the finish line.
Able Friend went off at 1.8 in the betting to win the Mile but he had to settle for third, a neck behind Giant Treasure. He was unable to find an extra gear inside the last 200 metres in the race he had won 12 months ago.
Connections of Able Friend may now be tempted to look for more global races for their six-year-old next year. His only run away from Sha Tin came in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June when he was disappointing after travelling to the UK with a big reputation.
He is expected to return for the same race in 2016 where the French-trained Solow is 3.0 in the betting with 32Red Australia at the time of writing to prevail once again ahead of Able Friend in the opening race of the Royal meeting.
Peniaphobia finally gets the better of Gold-Fun
Heading into the Hong Kong Sprint, Peniaphobia had raced against Gold-Fun on four different occasions in 2015 and in neither of those starts had he managed to finish ahead of his rival. That record was put straight at Sha Tin as Peniaphobia made all to hold off the challenge of the champion sprinter.
Joao Moreira, Peniaphobia’s rider, felt the best move from his wide draw was to hit the front of the field and pick up the inside rail. That move proved to be the right call as it allowed the horse a clear run inside the closing 200 metres, unlike Golf-Fun, who was held up midfield and had to navigate through the field before his drive to the line.
The Australian-bred Not Listening’tome can also be classed as being a little unlucky in running as he was beaten by just a length in third place but needed to edge out of the pack, losing ground in the closing stages.
Highland Reel wins battle of Europeans in the Vase
The 2015 Hong Kong Vase was dominated by a strong contingent of European entries and they had it their own way with the first three home in the race coming from Europe.
Highland Reel, with Moore in the saddle, was able to get the better of his rivals in the race, finishing ahead of the Andre Fabre trained Flintshire who went off at 2.5 in the betting with 32Red, while Dariyan was back in third place.
Flintshire took the lead with 300 metres left in the contest but was unable to hold off the challenge of Highland Reel who was travelling better for the final 200 metres.
Highland Reel has now been cut into 21.0 by StanJames to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris next year following his victory in the Hong Kong Vase.
O’Brien’s colt finished second in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) back in May but did later score in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and then the Grade One Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August.
The Coolmore-owned horse has proved he is comfortable travelling all over the world as he also ran in Australia in October where he finished third in the William Hill Cox Plate won by Winx.