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HK racing comes of age as locals sweep the board in International Races

J A McGrath

A measure of how far Hong Kong has come as a racing capital in a relatively short time can be judged by the total dominance of local horses in the four International Races run at Sha Tin on Sunday, 9 December.

A total of 24 horses were shipped in from six foreign countries to take on the best Hong Kong could line up in four races over a variety of distances.

Admittedly, only two of the visitors were rated 120 or more — they were Waldgeist in the Vase and Sungrazer in the G1 Cup — but that does not detract from the performances of the winners, such as local star Beauty Generation, who almost certainly boosted his international mark of 126 with a stunning success in the G1 Mile.

No doubt, trainer John Moore will listen to offers to come to Dubai, Royal Ascot and Goodwood, but whether owner Patrick Kwai Ho-Chuen decides to go to foreign ports is another matter.

The Darley sire Teofilo has enjoyed a hugely successful year, with Cross Counter topping the bill with his Melbourne Cup triumph, and now Irish-bred Exultant has joined him on the international honour board by winning the G1 Hong Kong Vase with a determined neck success over Japanese raider Lys Gracieux.

Exultant was placed in the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas under his original name, Irishcorrespondent.

Mr Stunning, a six-year-old gelding by another Darley stallion, Exceed And Excel, lifted the G1 Sprint, while later on the card, stablemate Glorious Forever, in the Cup, completed a double for his trainer Frankie Lor, who has held a licence for only two years.

One final comment: the 96,388 attendance was outstanding for a major meeting, and the fans themselves were outstanding for their display of a special brand of enthusiasm for the sport.