If you’re like me, you’re one of those people who love horse racing and everything about it until it goes overseas.
This week on twitter has been obnoxious with everyone talking about the Hong Kong International Races, #HKIR, posting blurry pictures of horses and videos of the contenders jogging really far away. You might be wondering, “what on earth is going on why is this a big deal all of a sudden?”
Don’t worry y’all, I got you.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has done a hell of a job promoting the races this year. They set up a group of social media experts or whatever to go out and flood our feeds with their thoughts on the races. Its pretty cool, but they keep talking about horses like Maurice, Free Eagle, Fiero, Mikki Isle and so many others. No idea who they are. So here’s your brief guide to the #HKIR from an American who does not follow international racing, for Americans who don’t follow international racing.
The #HKIR are made up of four races run at Sha Tin:
The Hong Kong Cup is worth about $3,200,000 which is a lot of money and is a mile and a quarter on the turf, which is the surface all #HKIR are on. Even though the Hong Kong Vase sounds a lot fancier, I believe this one is the biggie.
The Hong Kong Mile is a mile and worth almost $3,000,000. Once a horse named Good Ba Ba won this three times, people love Good Ba Ba!
The Hong Kong Vase is a mile and a half long and is worth about $2,100,000. Remember Ouija Board? Yeah, she won this one.
The Hong Kong Sprint is about six furlongs and is worth $2,400,000 or so. It is the final leg in the Global Sprint Challenge which is made up of a bunch of races around the world, here is the official site if you wanna learn more about that.
Earlier in the week there is the Hong Kong Jockey Challenge, where jockeys from around the world compete at Happy Valley and earn points in specific races, jockey with most points win. Some South African jockey won it, and Victor Espinoza failed to score anything.
When it comes to the horses, the main one you should know about is Mongolian Saturday. He used to be a pretty garbage horse, but 2015 has been a very successful year for him. He has hit the board in all ten (yes, ten!) races this year including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint where he, ya know, won and now suddenly everyone is his biggest fan. He was also second in the Turf Monster Stakes a few months ago, which had the best saddle cloth ever.
Flintshire is another that should ring some bells at least. Last year’s winner of the Vase, he is back at it again. For some reason they shipped him in to Saratoga from Europe to win the Sword Dancer Invitational, then shipped him right back. He was second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this year, which is a big deal in Europe.
Another horse you might be aware of is Green Mask. He’s an American trained by Wesley Ward, so he’s kind of a Euro. He was third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint behind Mongolian Saturday. Before then though, he’s been in a bunch of ungraded stakes (in his defense there’s not many graded turf sprints here) except for randomly running third in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.
A local horse to pay attention to is last year’s Hong Kong Mile winner Able Friend. They love him in there, but he kind of sucked when he tried to step up at Ascot. Don’t worry bud, we’re back on your turf now.
Another Breeders’ Cup participant is Mondialiste, he won the Woodbine Mile before heading on down to Keeneland to lose to a girl in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Most of his races on Equibase are “Weight for Age Stakes” which normally means its probably a big deal, but who knows.
On the Arlington Million undercard European invader Highland Reel won the Secretariat Stakes. Dude’s been all over in Europe, USA, Australia, and now Hong Kong and Dubai is in his sights. What a globe trotter! He’s trained at Ballydoyle with Aidan O’Brien so he’s probably alright.
Now Criterion is an Australian who finished third in the Melbourne Cup, second in the Cox Plate and won the Caulfield Stakes which I believe are all big races down there. He was third in last year’s Hong Kong Cup so he’s gonna give it another go.
Another horse that whole social media team is buzzing about is Japanese runner Danon Platina, which I suspect is mostly because he’s an eye-catching gray. He is the JRA Champion 2-Year Old from last year, and has only managed to win a G3 this year, but was third in a G2 and was way far back in a G1 attempt so take from that what you will.
That’s all I got. Make sure to tune in late, late Saturday night around like, 2am EST to check out the races.
If you want some more information about the races check out Pat Cummings (@PatCummingsHK) and Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNKHawkins) (especially him, his twitter is verified!) for local info. I know, neither are actually from Hong Kong but they both live there now so that’s the best we can do.
The rest of the squad they assembled is José Contreras (@LosPonies), Acacia Courtney (@acacia_courtney), Harriet Fuller (@HattieLFuller), Victoria Garofalo (@itsmevictoriag), Candice Hare (@chare889), Calum Madell (@calummadell), Keith McCalmont (@TripleDeadHeat), Penelope Miller (@PenelopePMiller), Bri Mott (@FashionAtTheRaces), Graham Pavey (@LongBallToNoOne), Andrew Rideout (@ThoroughbredAR), and Dan Tordjman (@DanonymousMan).