The connections of Glory Vase can breathe easier after the Japanese star was passed fit to run in Sunday’s Group One FWD QE II Cup (10:35 am SA time).
There was some doubt about the Tomohito Ozeki-trained six-year-old taking his place in the HK$25 million contest when he was found to be lame in his right front leg after trackwork on Thursday morning but his condition has improved, with stewards giving him the green light.
Glory Vase, who won the Group One Hong Kong Vase in 2019, had an easy gallop at trackwork on Saturday morning before getting reacquainted with the Sha Tin parade ring.
The four Japanese visitors dominate the early betting for the QE II Cup with Daring Tact the favourite, Glory Vase and Loves Only You together on the second line while Kiseki is considered a 10-1 chance, alongside last year’s winner Exultant.
Hong Kong is guaranteed to take out at least one Group One on the marquee day with Golden Sixty headlining an all-local cast in the Champions Mile (09:55).
The Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained five-year-old is chasing his 14th victory in a row – and fourth at the highest level – in the HK$20 million contest and is set to start a long odds-on favourite.
Golden Sixty will jump from barrier five in the six-horse field and jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu thinks that is a positive.
“With less horses, it’s less complicated but you never underestimate the challenge. You always have to ride perfectly,” Ho said.
“He’ll settle anywhere he’s comfortable in the run. There are a couple of horses who are likely to go forward, but I don’t think the pace will be fast.
“It might not be a normal race, but we can adapt to whatever comes up.”
The only query over Golden Sixty is his fitness given he hasn’t raced since his narrow victory in the Group One Hong Kong Gold Cup in February.
But he is stepping back in distance from 2,000m to his preferred trip of 1,600m and Ho is pleased with his condition.“There are no concerns over him in any way. He feels very good,” he said.
There is only one Japanese horse taking part in the day’s other feature, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (08:50), but punters expect Danon Smash to replicate his performance from December’s Hong Kong Sprint, which he won in smart fashion.
He is rated an even-money chance in early markets, with Wellington, Beauty Applause and Stronger next in line.