Jamie Lynch

Sky Sports Racing Senior Analyst Jamie Lynch looks at the Euro challenge competing at the top-class Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on Sunday morning - live on Sky Sports Racing.

  • Friday 06 December
  • Blog
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We’re well into the National Hunt season, but there’s one last hurrah for Flat racing for the year, courtesy of the Hong Kong International Meeting, all live this Sunday on Sky Sports Racing. Let’s take a closer look at the European contingent with their eyes on the prestigious prizes.  

HONG KONG VASE

It’s strength in numbers as far the European challenge is concerned, numbering seven, but will the sum of their parts be greater than the whole of the local expectation which rests on the shoulders of Exultant?

It wasn’t in 2018 when none other than Waldgeist was part of an eight-strong European union that was broken up by an Irish sleeper, once an Irishcorrespondent, now named Exultant and one of the top 25 thoroughbreds in the world, according to the official rankings.

At 117, the Derby winner doesn’t even make the top 40, an unusual state of affairs, thoughAnthony Van Dyck has to be seen in a rather better light after the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita, where he’d have given Bricks And Mortar a race but for having his momentum checked at a crucial stage.

Cheekpieces were probably coincidental to his flop in the King George, and blinkers are called for now, early enthusiasm vital for him from stall 12.

He needs an end-to-end gallop, as do Called To The Bar and Prince Of Arran, both having made their name over further, the pair 0/6 combined in Group 1s, but Prince Of Arran has been placed in the last two Melbourne Cups.

Watch the 2019 Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Sunday 8th December from 3.45 am.

Third-favourite for the 2018 Derby, and right back on point last time, Young Rascal is interesting on the surface, if less so on this surface, a firm one, having kept to good or softer ground so far on turf.  

The Group 1 that Aspetar won came merely in Cologne, Germany, and it’s doubtful he’s quite ready for all of this, in the same boat in that regard as Mount Everest, who’s drawn wider still than team-mate Anthony Van Dyck, whom he was behind at Santa Anita.

All of which means that, almost by default, True Self could prove the best of the Europeans. She has come a long way since starting out with defeat in a Warwick bumper for Don Cantillon in November 2016, swiftly transferred to Ireland and gradually given a magic makeover by Mullins, culminating with a Group 3 win against the males at Flemington last month, with something to spare.

Her trajectory and her tools are what mark her out from the European crowd, still getting better and having the best blend of speed and stamina for this job. A podium finish is within her means, but it’s a stretch to say that she – or anything else – can beat defending champ Exultant.       

HONG KONG MILE

Only the one European challenger for the Mile, and it’s a Group 1 virgin in Zaaki, significant that it’s Sir Michael Stoute with the statement of faith in him, but odds of 25/1 seem about right from everything we know of him.

In general, the Mile is the most intriguing, and the most inviting, from a punting perspective, because of Beauty Generation’s star seemingly dimming, once the King of Hong Kong but finishing only third on his last two starts, perhaps a case of Father Time meeting Mother Nature.

Watch the 2019 Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Sunday 8th December from 3.45 am.

Waikuku has finished ahead of him on both those occasions, but it’s the Japanese juggernaut, Indy Champ, who looks the one to go with.   

He’s coming in hot, on the back of the performance of his life, a silky-smooth success in a Group 1 at home in Japan, and this looks a case of Indy Champ being in the right place at the right time.

HONG KONG CUP

There have been only seven European-trained winners in the 30-year history of the Cup, and none since Snow Fairy in 2010. Pride plundered the prize for France in 2006, masterminded by Alain de Royer-Dupre, who brings Edisa to the party this year. However, she’s not in the same league as Magic Wand.

There’s tough, and then there’s Magic Wand, whose year so far has consisted of 11 races in 11 months, 10 of them Group 1s, in 5 different countries. Just 4 days after contesting the Melbourne Cup (when drawn in 24), she deservedly bagged a big one, over the 10f trip of the Hong Kong Cup, and she was about as clinical as it gets.

If Europe is going to have a winner at this big international jamboree, then it will be Magic Wand.  

SPRINT

There’s no European representation in the Sprint, but it’s worth a word, and that word is Aethero, because he’s the one who could light up Sha Tin. Only a 3yo, Aethero is the next big thing on the sprint scene, and it’s not just the way he’s been winning but the times he’s clocked, one of only 3 horses in Hong Kong history to break 55 seconds over 1000m at Shat Tin, dipping under the sainted Sacred Kingdom’s standard.

There’s electricity running through Aethero, who will hopefully follow the script and put on a real show on Sunday morning. 


Jamie Lynch
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