Horse Racing
Group 1 stars among FWD Champions Day entries

20/03/2019 15:50

Beauty Generation will seek back-to-back wins in the FWD Champions Mile.
Beauty Generation will seek back-to-back wins in the FWD Champions Mile.

FWD Champions Day will hold world racing’s spotlight at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 28 April and the international occasion has attracted 111 entries from 13 countries, spread over six continents, for its three lucrative Group 1 contests.

Super filly Almond Eye is one of 30 nominations from Japan, while elite stars The Autumn Sun and Santa Ana Lane are among 12 Australian entrants. A total of 38 individual G1 winners hold entries to the lucrative triple-header, 10 more than were engaged at this stage last year.

Hong Kong’s outstanding “Master Miler” Beauty Generation heads the home team’s 39 nominations and the potential overseas challenge also includes top gallopers from Britain, France, Ireland, UAE, USA, South Africa, Qatar, Bahrain, New Zealand and Uruguay.

FWD Champions Day features the HK$24 million FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m), the HK$18 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and the HK$16 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

Mr Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, said: “FWD Champions Day is one of the world’s elite race days and the high quality of nominations this year is indicative of that. Last year was the first time that we positioned all three of our spring majors on the same day and the result was a tremendous celebration of world class sport. This year, with FWD partnering for the first time, we can look forward to another exciting occasion.

“It is pleasing to have 38 Group 1 winners among the 111 horses nominated across the three races, including some of the sport’s biggest names. The broad worldwide spread of entries is an exciting feature of this year’s nominations, with an impressive Japanese contingent and a very welcome and strong group of entries from Australia. As ever, we look forward to welcoming the world’s leading horsemen and women to Sha Tin on 28 April.”


Pakistan Star lands the FWD QEII Cup in style under William Buick.
Pakistan Star lands the FWD QEII Cup in style under William Buick.

Almond Eye is not the only Japanese star under consideration for the FWD QEII Cup. Wagnerian and Epoca D’Oro, the one-two in last year’s G1 Japan Derby, hold entries, as do the 2016 Japan Derby hero Makahiki and the top-class mares Lys Gracieux and Deirdre.

The last-named mare was a strong-finishing runner-up to Glorious Forever over the course and distance in the G1 Hong Kong Cup in December.

Australia’s ace three-year-old colt The Autumn Sun is doubly-engaged in the Cup and the FWD Champions Mile, while two-time G1 Australian Cup hero Harlem is also entered.

Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has engaged the top-class filly Magic Wand, a Royal Ascot winner last term and second in the G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf this year.

Glorious Forever is entered, as is Pakistan Star who raised the roof when winning last year’s QEII Cup. Exultant, though, has emerged as the star of Hong Kong’s 2000m-plus division this season, and he will attempt to exert his authority.

Meanwhile, the talented BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Furore and the exciting runner-up Waikuku are engaged with a view to usurping the old guard and repelling the overseas raiders.

Overseas competitors have won the race 12 times since 1995.

FWD Champions Mile

Beauty Generation has gone on a seven-win streak since commanding last year’s Champions Mile and the current king of Sha Tin will attempt to enhance his mighty status on 28 April.

Australian mare Shoals is a triple G1 winner and could journey to Sha Tin to take on the world’s co-highest rated racehorse. Another filly from Down Under, Fundamentalist, has placed in five of her six G1 attempts, including when runner-up in the Randwick Guineas to fellow FWD Champions Mile entrant, The Autumn Sun.

Japan’s Mozu Ascot, the 2018 G1 Yasuda Kinen victor, was behind Beauty Generation in December’s G1 Hong Kong Mile but is slated for a second assault. Fellow Japanese G1 winner Satono Ares is also engaged.

From Ireland, the all-powerful O’Brien stable could saddle G2 winner and G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes runner-up I Can Fly.

Godolphin’s talented four-year-old Wootton was runner-up in the G1 Jebel Hatta last time and could head to Sha Tin from the Dubai World Cup Carnival, while South African G1 winner Marinaresco could do the same.

Other Hong Kong entrants include Hong Kong Classic Cup scorer Mission Tycoon, the G1 Stewards’ Cup runner-up Conte and the emerging talent Rise High.

Chairman’s Sprint Prize

Mr Stunning (red cap) is just beaten by Ivictory in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize last year.
Mr Stunning (red cap) is just beaten by Ivictory in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize last year.

Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock are proven top-class stars around Sha Tin’s 1200m but Hong Kong’s big name sprinters could face a stiff challenge in the G1 speed feature.

Australia won the race in 2016 with Chautauqua and could again unleash some big guns: four-time G1 winner Santa Ana Lane and two-time G1 victor In Her Time have been nominated to take on the home defence.

And, from Europe, trainer Richard Fahey has entered the speedy Sands Of Mali, winner of the G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in October. Last year’s sharp two-year-old filly, Signora Cabello, winner of the G2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and G1-placed, has also been nominated from Britain. Ireland’s Lost Treasure, from O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team, has been entered too.

Imperial Hint won two of North America’s top sprints last term, the G1 Vosburgh Stakes and G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.

Uruguayan mare Holy Legal has also been entered, as has New Zealand’s two-time G1 winner Enzo’s Lad.