HK$93 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races will bring together international stars for four exciting and elite Group 1 contests at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday morning Irish time.
The LONGINES HKIR is the sport’s global year-end Group 1 extravaganza. The ‘Turf World Championships’ features the HK$28 million LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2,000m), the HK$25 million LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1,600m), the HK$20 million LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) and the HK$20 million LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2,400m).
European-trained runners have won 20 of the 24 editions of the Hong Kong Vase with Ireland responsible for two of those thanks to the Aidan O’Brien-trained Highland Reel (2015 & 2017). This year, the Vase is the only race to have Irish-trained runners.
Eziyra, trained by Dermot Weld for the Aga Khan, will line up in the HK$20 million Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) off the back of a light campaign which has featured just four starts to ensure the chestnut daughter of Teofilo would be fresh for the latter stages of the season.
The filly, who won the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes and the Group 2 Blandford Stakes this season, as well as putting in an excellent effort when finishing third to Group 1 Irish Oaks heroine Sea Of Class in the Yorkshire Oaks, placed 6th in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last month.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s top-class International races at Sha Tin, Pat Downes, the Aga Khan’s Racing Manager in Ireland said of Eziyra:
“We’re seeing the benefit in giving her the first half of the year off. It was always the plan when we finished LONGINES Irish Champions Weekend last year that she would have a long break and she didn’t go to Dermot until 1 June. I think we’re seeing the benefit of that now and everyone seems to be very happy with her.”
Commenting on the filly’s chances, Downes stated:
“She has a nice draw and I think she’ll enjoy the nicer ground than we got in Churchill [Downs]. She didn’t seem to appreciate that stickier ground and we’re hopeful of a big run, which she is entitled to do on the ratings. Hopefully there will be plenty of pace and she will run a good race.”
Aidan O’Brien, who has trained the winner of the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase twice in the last three years, has Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup fifth Rostropovich in the field. The three-year-old son of Frankel, owned by the Coolmore partners, will be ridden by Cork-born jockey, Wayne Lordan.
Meanwhile Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner of 2018, Latrobe, trained by Joseph O’Brien, was found to be mildly lame on his left front leg on Saturday morning during a routine pre-race inspection. The son of Camelot, second in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on his last start, was said to have some sensitivity to both heel bulbs of his left front foot. He will be re-examined on Sunday morning to assess the horse’s suitability to race.