History will be made in Sunday’s (27 May) Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m), regardless of the result, when the Ralph Beckett-trained Chemical Charge flies the flag for Great Britain in the HK$10 million feature.
Chemical Charge will be the first international galloper to tackle Sha Tin’s second top-flight mile and a half feature of the season. In the first, December’s LONGINES Hong Kong Vase, Chemical Charge outran his 87/1 starting price in finishing fourth, almost three lengths from Highland Reel; on that occasion, he was merely a length behind the runner-up, Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic.
“We were pretty sure Sha Tin and the style of racing would suit him before he went in December and he ran very well,” Beckett said from his Kimpton Down Stables in Hampshire. “I am hopeful that will happen again. I am very happy with the horse and confident of a big show because the track and the way the races are run there clearly suit him. He is definitely better going right-handed on a flat track.”
It appears a shrewd move on the part of Beckett and owners Qatar Racing. The strength of Hong Kong’s horse population has traditionally centred amongst the sprinters and milers, with a limited number of high-class races beyond 2000m. In the Hong Kong Vase, which attracts strong international competition each year, the home team has been successful only twice from 24 runnings, with Indigenous (1998) and Dominant (2013).
Add in that the Champions & Chater Cup generally comes at the end of a long season for the local gallopers – a factor that has been given as an excuse for beaten favourites like Vengeance Of Rain, Viva Pataca, Designs On Rome and Werther – and it is clear that Chemical Charge arrives with strong claims for the final G1 of the Hong Kong season.
“It is going to be a small field and whether or not that will suit us, time will tell, but it does mean we pick up a large cheque,” Beckett said. “We are all set for Sunday and looking forward to the race.”