Magical in Hong Kong Cup mix

Aidan O’Brien’s Magical heads the stellar cast in contention for the hugely valuable Longines Hong Kong International meeting at Sha Tin.

Staged on December 13, the card is worth more than £9million in prize money across four Group One contests, three of which offer the largest purse on turf over their respective distances.

Seven-time Group One winner Magical is engaged in the Hong Kong Cup, run over a mile and two furlongs, and was most recently seen finishing a length behind Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland.

Her last victory was in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September, where she saw off the horse that tops this year’s Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, the Godolphin-owned Ghaiyyath.

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Magical is likely to be joined by stablemate Peaceful, who took the Irish 1,000 Guineas this season, with Jerome Reynier’s Prix Dollar winner Skalleti also representing the European contingent.

The Japanese flag is flown by last year’s victor Win Bright, who is undefeated in two runs at the track, while the home side field 2019 Hong Kong Derby winner Furore.

The Hong Kong Mile is also contested by a former winner, as Admire Mars returns to defend his crown for Japanese trainer Yasuo Tomomichi.

The colt faces stiff opposition from Golden Sixty, who has put together a remarkable 10-race winning streak and bids to claim his first Group One title.

Beauty Generation, who took the race in both 2017 and 2018, is also set to take part as he looks to return to winning ways for new trainer David Hayes.

Ireland are represented by two runners from Ballydoyle, surprise Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez, who finished third in the same race – with Ken Condon’s dual Minstrel Stakes and 2018 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Romanised also entered.

Hot King Prawn carries the hopes of Hong Kong in the six-furlong sprint, in what will be a quick turnaround from his winning performance in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint on November 22.

He will face Classique Legend, a new recruit to the yard of leading Hong Kong trainer Caspar Fownes, and Singapore’s Inferno, a two-time Grade One winner.

Grand Prix de Paris winner and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Mogul lines up for Ballydoyle in the Hong Kong Vase – alongside the globe-trotting Royal Julius, who was the victor in the 2019 Bahrain International Trophy.

Five-time Group One winner Exultant bids to regain the title, having prevailed in 2018 and then missed out last year when third behind the aptly-named Glory Vase.

Hong Kong option remains open for Romanised

A trip to Hong Kong remains on the table for Romanised despite his odds-on defeat at Dundalk on Monday.

Making his first appearance since finishing last of six runners in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp in early September, Ken Condon’s dual Group One winner was a short-priced favourite for what was his first ever start on the all-weather in County Louth.

However, the five-year-old lost several lengths at the start and ended up being beaten into third place by Saltonstall.

Condon said: “I think it served its purpose – it was a prep run and he blew the start.

“Billy (Lee, jockey) had to get him into the race, then he was in his hands a bit. He travelled really well through the race, like we know he can, and went to win his race and just took a blow and got a bit tired.

“If you take him in isolation, it was an interesting exercise as he’s run his race faster than anything else, if that makes sense.

“If he’d jumped away with them, it would have been a different story. Billy was particularly happy and he’s the one that is the most relevant in this jigsaw.”

Condon was previously keen on a tilt at the Hong Kong Mile and while disappointed to see his stable star suffer defeat, he believes there was enough encouragement in his performance to stick to the plan, provided Romanised takes his Dundalk exertions well.

He added: “We’ll see how he is in the next week – we don’t have to commit to Hong Kong immediately. But I still think we’re on course and he’ll get something from the race (at Dundalk), as he’d been off the track a while.

“All things considered, it was a solid run. It’s important now to see how he trains in the next week as it’s a long way to go and we want to be going there with a horse in top condition.

“I was initially disappointed that he got beaten, but after I analysed it closely and watched the race several times and listened to everybody, I think he’s run well.”

Romanised settles for third as Saltonstall sparkles at Dundalk

Saltonstall continued his rapid progression as he proved too strong for hot favourite Romanised at Dundalk.

Ken Condon had been planning to use the Test Your Tipping Talents At PUNTERS.HOLLYWOODBETS.COM Every Dundalk Meeting Race as a prep for a trip to Hong Kong with his 2018 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Romanised.

However, the odds-on favourite was very slowly away under Billy Lee, conceding up to six lengths on leaving the stalls.

He quickly made the ground up though, and went by Saltonstall heading down the back straight as Lee looked confident turning for home.

Romanised hit the front still on the bridle over a furlong out, but when Lee asked him to quicken, there was little response and Saltonstall (9-4), who had won his last two for Ado McGuinness, stayed on strongly under 7lb apprentice Sam Ewing.

Harpocrates stuck on gamely to pass Romanised for second, three-quarters of a length behind Saltonstall.

“I can’t fight with the handicapper anymore anyway, that’s for sure,” said McGuinness.

“We put him in this race by chance as he was going so well. People probably thought I was mad running him here after running in the mud, but he’d been here a couple of times and he just floats on the surface.

“Sam was very good on him and it’s great for everyone involved. That’s his fourth win of the year and he’d just a superstar of a horse to have. I’m just thrilled to have him.

“He’ll get a break now, he won’t go travelling. Lingfield could be a possibility for him, but I think we’ll target stakes races on soft ground at the start of next season.

“I don’t know about the Galway Mile next year – I’d want a 20lb claimer on him! It’s a great problem to have with a horse.

“I’m praying to God that I can keep his form the way it is. He’s just turned inside out with age and I’m delighted to have him.”

Hong Kong trip hinges on Dundalk run for Romanised

Romanised will run at Dundalk next week before Ken Condon confirms a trip to Hong Kong.

The dual Group One-winner, who won the Minstrel Stakes for a second time in July, has been below his best the last twice – in the Jacques le Marois and the Prix du Moulin.

Romanised is due to head to stud next year – so should he fail to fire at Dundalk, in a conditions race over a mile on Monday, it is likely to be his last run.

But Condon has been happy with him and is keen on a last hurrah in the Hong Kong Mile.

“He’s in good shape, and we’ve freshened him up since the Moulin,” said the County Kildare trainer.

“The plan is to run on Monday at Dundalk in a conditions race. He’ll have plenty of penalties, but that’s fine, it’s just a long way to go to Hong Kong on the back of his Moulin run.

“We’ll decide whether he goes to Hong Kong or not depending on how he runs at Dundalk. He’s never been on Polytrack before but he’s fresh and well so we’ll see how he gets on.

“If everyone is happy and he gives a good performance then we’ll have a good look at Hong Kong.

“We’d like to go, but it depends on how he runs on Monday.”