European Stars This Sunday – Sha Tin Group 1 Previews
Sunday’s Leading European Runners In Hong Kong
International horse racing comes from Sha Tin on Sunday morning where a host of top-class European representatives have made their way over to Hong Kong in search of Group 1 success. Our expert tipster has provided a rundown of the stars you should watch out for this weekend.
PYLEDRIVER & MOGUL (06:00 The Longines Hong Kong Vase)
Trainer William Muir will be confident of landing the first Group 1 on the card with his stable star PYLEDRIVER. The colt had a productive three-year-old campaign last year when claiming Group 2 honours at Royal Ascot in the King Edward VII Stakes before cruising to success on the Knavesmire at York to take the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes.
Since returning as a four-year-old, Pyledriver registered his first Group 1 victory when gamely rallying to see off the challenge of William Haggas’ Al Aasy at Epsom in the Coronation Cup in June. Despite racing over an inadequate 1m2f last time out, Pyledriver showed his class to win a Listed event at Lingfield and should now be in tiptop condition in his bid to win a second career Group 1.
Aidan O’Brien’s globetrotting four-year-old MOGUL is no stranger to the Hong Kong track when landing last year’s renewal by 3l in the hands of Ryan Moore. That was Mogul’s third victory in five starts at the time but it’s safe to say Aidan O’Brien’s colt has found things difficult since that purple patch and has been below par in all bar one run as a four-year-old.
Defeats at Meydan behind Mishriff in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic and a wide margin loss in the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June have highlighted his recent struggles on the track and connections now hope a return to Sha Tin may galvanise the four-year-old colt back into form.
Connections will be hopeful Mogul can spark back into life now back in Hong Kong but he faces a much sterner challenge than he had 12 months ago and has also failed to beat fellow rival Pyledriver on his last three attempts.
MOTHER EARTH (07:50 The Longines Hong Kong Mile)
There is only one European entry in the Hong Kong Mile and it’s safe to say it’s going to take something special to lower the colours of Golden Sixty who has now won a remarkable 15 races in a row, 9 of which have come in Group company. The six-year-old will once again come with his potent late burst of speed and will be hard to beat in search of a staggering nineteenth career victory.
MOTHER EARTH returned in May this year and landed the first of two Group 1 wins in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket under Frankie Dettori before gamely holding on to land the Prix Rothschild at Deauville. The filly has arguably been unlucky not to add to those subsequent Group 1 wins having reached the frame on five of seven starts at the highest grade.
However, Aidan O’Brien’s filly has certainly struggled on her last two outings since taking on the boys and will have to improve again if she is going to play a serious role on Sunday.
DUBAI HONOUR, MAC SWINEY & BOLSHOI BALLET (08:30 The Longines Hong Kong Cup)
DUBAI HONOUR appears to hold a favourite’s chance of landing a first Group 1 win this Sunday and certainly has impressed of late for trainer William Haggas. The three-year-old gelding has won three of his last four starts including back-to-back Group 2 wins in France in the Prix Guillaume D’ornano Stakes and the Qatar Prix Dollar at Deauville and Parislongchamp.
Dubai Honour was unlucky not to add a Group 1 success to his CV when narrowly denied in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot last time out but connections will be confident that it’s only a matter of time before that changes.
MAC SWINEY defeated stablemate and 2000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare to land a first Group 1 in May for Irish trainer Jim Bolger. The three-year-old has failed to kick on from that win but was not beaten far behind Dubai Honour last time at Ascot when finishing third in the Qipco Champion Stakes.
It’s hard to see how Mac Swiney will turn the tables on the William Haggas runner when they meet again on Sunday and Jim Bolger’s runner looks up against it with all career victories coming on either soft or heavy going.
BOLSHOI BALLET is no stranger to the international stage after landing the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes in the States back in July. Prior to that, the three-year-old had landed successive Group 3 wins at Leopardstown under jockey Ryan Moore.
Aidan O’Brien’s runner has since struggled at Group 1 level and has failed to be competitive on any of the last three occasions in America including when tailing off in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar back in November.