Japan’s elite and Hong Kong’s brilliant best are among the list of 77 horses holding entries for FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin on Sunday, 25 April, 2021.
FWD Champions Day features three world class Group 1 races, the HK$25 million FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m), the HK$20 million FWD Champions Mile (1600m), and the HK$18 million Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m). A total of 19 Group 1 winners are among this year’s exciting entries.
Japanese filly Daring Tact tops the billing of the international entrants after becoming only the sixth Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown winner, and the first undefeated last year, and in this year’s FWD QEII Cup she could face the brilliant Golden Sixty as well as the might of last year’s triumphant of the race Exultant, while fellow Japanese entrants Chrono Genesis, Loves Only You and Glory Vase – tear away winner of the 2019 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) – all could feature.
Golden Sixty, Hong Kong’s new hero, is also entered for the FWD Champions Mile and he could be pitted against Salios and crack miler Indy Champ, who finished a luckless seventh in the 2019 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile. Also entered is two-time Group 1 winner Waikuku, as well as last year’s victor Southern Legend, who narrowly edged Beauty Generation in a thrilling renewal, while recent 2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby hero Sky Darci is also entered.
Danon Smash, winner of the 2020 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) is entered to return to Hong Kong to contest the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), and could square off with recent Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) winner Hot King Prawn and fellow speedster Classique Legend, last year’s winner of The Everest, while precocious young talents Wellington, Sky Field and Winning Dreamer all could feature.
Mr. Andrew Harding, Executive Director, Racing, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “It is pleasing to see the volume of nominations but more important than the numbers is the quality and we are delighted that the calibre of entries is high, featuring Daring Tact, a brilliant athlete and winner of Japan’s Fillies’ Triple Crown and fellow three-time Group 1 winner Chrono Genesis, and not to mention the best from Hong Kong as well as some very talented French contenders and a quartet of entrants from Great Britain.”
“We are fortunate that Hong Kong racing has been able to continue uninterrupted through the global pandemic with stringent safeguards in place and we are delighted that horsemen from leading racing jurisdictions have shown faith and trust enough in our dedication to health, safety and security to nominate their stable stars to our three Group 1 races at Sha Tin on FWD Champions Day. That says much for the attraction of Hong Kong racing and all the positive things it stands for in the world of sport.”
“Following on from the success of the Hong Kong International Races we are continuing to work closely with the Hong Kong government on arrangements that would facilitate an international presence at one of our primary events with the goal of once again putting on a day of world-class sport.”
FWD QEII Cup
Daring Tact, third in last year’s Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m), could bring Almond Eye form to Hong Kong and take on Golden Sixty and Exultant, while the latter will bid to become the second back-to-back winner since the race was opened to international competition in 1995, following Eishin Preston in 2002 and 2003.
The brilliant four-year-old, Daring Tact, is one of 36 entrants for the 10 furlong feature and one of 11 from the Land of the Rising Sun. The powerful Japanese cohort also includes three-time Group 1 winner Chrono Genesis who fought gamely to claim December’s Group 1 Arima Kinen (2500m) at Nakayama, as well as 2019 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner Glory Vase, a comfortable victor of December’s feature that year, the gifted son of Deep Impact could return to a happy hunting ground at Sha Tin.
Japan’s team could also have Loves Only You, winner of the 2019 Group 1 Yushun Himba (2400m), as well as 2012 QEII Cup winner Rulership’s enigmatic son, Kiseki, winner of the 2017 Group 1 Kikuka Sho (3000m) and is a five-time placegetter at the top-level.
Hong Kong’s Exultant is a five-time Group 1 winner, while 2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby victor Furore could join him along with stablemate to the duo, Time Warp. A strong crop of talented four-year-old’s may also have their chances at QEII Cup glory, as Excellent Proposal, Berlin Tango, Panfield, Russian Emperor, Silver Express, Tourbillon Diamond and dual Australian Group 1 winner Shadow Hero all feature.
A sole entrant from Great Britain comes in the form of Felix, a six-time winner from 14 starts who placed at Group 3 level last time out.
FWD Champions Mile
Golden Sixty swept all before him last season which culminated in Hong Kong Derby glory and the trend has continued this term with six unbeaten runs and a win streak that stands at 13. He boasts three Group 1 scores – last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and this year’s Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m).
Indy Champ and Salios represent a strong Japanese contingent against the brilliant son of Medaglia d’Oro. The former was luckless when joint favourite with Beauty Generation in the 2019 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, finishing seventh and since returned to Japan for a win at Group 2 level and two consecutive Group 1 placings behind Gran Alegria, each at the mile. The latter, Salios, was a smart winner of the 2019 Group 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (1600m) as a two-year-old.
Included from Hong Kong also is Southern Legend, last year’s winner of the race, as well as two-time Group 1 winner Waikuku who recently scored a commanding win in February’s Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m).
The consistent Ka Ying Star could feature, as could Hong Kong Classic Cup winner Healthy Happy, while last Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby victor Sky Darci also holds an entry.
Andre Fabre, a dominant force in France, has entered the lightly raced Duhail, a smart son of Lope De Vega.
Last-start Group 2 Zabeel Mile midfield finisher Epic Hero holds an entry for trainer Simon Crisford from Great Britain, as does My Oberon from the William Haggas yard to round out the 25-strong list of possibilities.
Chairman’s Sprint Prize
After claiming his first Group 1 crown in January’s Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), Hot King Prawn is on track to contend for another but his opposition won’t be short of talent. Fellow grey Classique Legend, winner of last year’s The Everest (1200m) when defeating seven individual Group 1 winners is set to feature, as is last year’s Hong Kong Sprint victor Danon Smash, while fellow Japanese A Will A Way and Lauda Sion are also entered.
Wellington, who equalled Sacred Kingdom’s Class 1 1200m record at Sha Tin last Saturday (13 March), clocking 1m 07.80s is entered to run, as are fellow youngsters on the rise Sky Field and Winning Dreamer, a winner of his first six consecutive starts.
A sole entrant from Great Britain comes in the form of the Simon Crisford-trained A’Ali, a four-year-old colt who boasts four Group 2 successes and form behind Earthlight, Battaash and Equilateral.
Hong Kong’s entries – among the 26 in total – also feature 2019 Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m) winner Rattan, 2020 Group 2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) winner Wishful Thinker, 2020 Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m) winner Voyage Warrior as well as Group 3 victors Computer Patch, Big Party and Jolly Banner.