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Hawkbill poised to make Hong Kong racing history

J A McGrath

Hawkbill is set to make his mark in the Far East by becoming the first foreign-trained horse to contest the G1 Champions and Chater Cup, one of Hong Kong’s most historic races, at Sha Tin on Sunday, 27 May.

The 2,400m (mile and a half) race seems ideal for the bold-striding galloper, who ran the race of his life to land the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night.

Already, trainer Charlie Appleby has predicted Hawkbill could become a globetrotting campaigner in the mould of former Godolphin stars Daylami and Sulamani, who racked up thousands of air miles contesting the world’s biggest races.

“He’s come out of Saturday’s race in good order, and all going well, Hong Kong in May is on his radar,” Appleby said.

The Champions and Chater Cup was first run in 1870, and in the modern era it has proven Hong Kong’s best staying test, though many local horses in the top grade have been found wanting for stamina.

Of late, the race has been won by local stars Werther, Blazing Speed (twice) and Viva Pataca. First prize this year is around US$725,000.

Appleby expects to have his first runner in Hong Kong later this month when Blue Point has a crack at the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on Sunday, 29 April.

Blue Point missed the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on Saturday after blood was detected by vets on the colt’s arrival at the start. His subsequent withdrawal was countered by the win of Godolphin stablemate Jungle Cat.

Appleby said: “He’s perfectly all right. Hopefully, he’ll get his chance to compensate in Hong Kong in a few weeks.”

The Chairman’s Prize, the fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, carries a first prize of US$1.25m.