Designs Returns For QE11

The APQEII Cup is ranked among the top 20 Group 1 races in the world

Designs On Rome wins the 2014 Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup

Designs On Rome seen winning the 2014 Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup

Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year Designs On Rome will attempt to win back-to-back editions of the HK$20 million Group 1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday 26 April.

To achieve that notable double he will have to see off an elite field featuring a clutch of top-class local rivals and four talented overseas raiders.

Today’s (9 April) selection announcement unveiled 13 selected runners for the 2015 renewal, which is the 17th to be staged under the Audemars Piguet banner. The prize fund, a record purse for the race, represents an increase of HK$6 million on the 2014 renewal. The APQEII Cup ranked 19th in the latest list of the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races and the world-class race day is one of Hong Kong’s most glamorous occasions, blending high-end chic and pinnacle sport.

“The APQEII Cup is ranked among the top 20 Group 1 races in the world and the quality of the 13 selected runners for this year’s race certainly lives up to that. The Hong Kong contingent features two past winners in Designs On Rome and Military Attack, both of whom are well-established among the best 2000m turf runners in the world, and, as usual, we have some talented challengers flying in from overseas. It has all the hallmarks of a fascinating and exciting Group 1 occasion,” said Mr William A. Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing.

The outstanding Military Attack- son of Oratorio

The outstanding Military Attack- son of Oratorio

Designs On Rome is one of the world’s elite 2000m runners and will lead the strong home defence that is set to feature high-class stalwarts Military Attack, Blazing Speed and the old man of the party, California Memory, but the overseas contenders will offer a stiff challenge.

Staphanos, one of Japan’s most promising rising stars, will attempt to become the third horse from his homeland to wrest the prestigious prize; Criterion, a fine third to Designs On Rome in December’s G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m), will aim to become the first Australian-based victor; past Hong Kong Vase hero Red Cadeaux will try to claim another major G1 prize; and Smoking Sun has been set the task of emulating Jim And Tonic’s win for France back in 1999, the first year of Audemars Piguet’s sponsorship.

Rulership (2012) and Eishin Preston (2002, 2003) are the two previous Japanese success stories in the APQEII Cup, which attained international G1 status in 2001. The Hideaki Fujiwara-trained Staphanos ran fifth in last year’s G1 Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas) over 2000m and rounded out a light three-year-old campaign with a G3 victory at a mile. His four-year-old debut brought a promise-filled third in the G2 Nakayama Kinen (1800m) behind last year’s G1 Japanese Oaks heroine Nuovo Record and the 2013 G1 Satsuki Sho winner Logotype.

Criterion completed a G1 double when winning the Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby in March and April of 2014, and emphasised his international merit when a length third in December’s G1 Hong Kong Cup. Trained by David Hayes, the Sebring colt has made the frame in two G1 starts since, latterly when a short-head second to Japan’s Real Impact in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m).

Red Cadeaux - on the move again

Red Cadeaux – a world star

British globe-trotter Red Cadeaux needs little introduction. The Ed Dunlop-trained veteran is a world star thanks to achieving several laudable feats in his time, notably victory in the 2012 G1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m), three runner-up finishes in the G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and second place in the G1 Dubai World Cup (2000m).

Meanwhile, from France, the Pascal Bary-trained Smoking Sun carried the famous Niarchos Family silks to G2 success last term and ran on well to finish second behind Hong Kong’s Dan Excel in the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m) at Kranji in May.

Designs On Rome will lead the home defence as he attempts to bounce back from a reversal in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) at Meydan in March. Should he win he would become only the third two-time winner of the race after Eishin Preston and Viva Pataca (2007, 2010) since it became an international contest. The John Moore-trained star has already notched two G1 wins this season in the Hong Kong Cup and Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), which took his record at the course and distance to four wins from five starts.

Military Attack won this race in 2013 en route to being crowned Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year. The veteran, now under the watch of trainer Caspar Fownes, has shown this season that he is still a powerful force at the elite level. The seven-year-old, a two-time international G1 winner, was only a short-head away from defeating Designs On Rome in the G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December. Viva Pataca is the only APQEII Cup winner – in the international era – to have subsequently suffered defeat in the race and then returned to reclaim the title.

Blazing Speed denied Military Attack by a head in November’s G2 Jockey Club Cup at the course and distance. Tony Cruz’s charge is a high-class performer on his day and is slated to line-up alongside stablemates California Memory, twice successful in the G1 Hong Kong Cup (2011, 2012), and Helene Super Star who ran two lengths fifth in this season’s Hong Kong Cup.

A pair of exciting up-and-comers is also among this year’s selected runners. The Andreas Schutz-trained Packing Llaregyb is an HKG3 winner on the rise and the Dylan Thomas five-year-old will attempt 2000m for the first time in this contest.

And Helene Happy Star represents this season’s four-year-old crop. The Moore-trained British import was a fine fourth to Luger in the HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) in March and will aim to continue his upward curve against the very best. The talented Mr Gnocchi and Same World will also represent the home team.

William A. Nader, Executive Director, Racing of the Hong Kong Jockey Club

William A. Nader, Executive Director, Racing of the Hong Kong Jockey Club

“The APQEII Cup has been attracting world-class runners since 1995 and this year is no different,” said Mr Nader. “We know that the likes of Designs On Rome, Military Attack, Red Cadeaux and Criterion are world-class racehorses, and it is exciting and satisfying to see them among the selections, but what is particularly thrilling is that we have another potential star from Japan heading to Sha Tin. Epiphaneia was among those that made the line-up last year and he went on to win the Japan Cup. Staphanos is in the same ownership and could yet progress to that kind of level if his first-up run this year is anything to go by, and that makes him an exciting contender for this year’s QEII. This mix of established heroes and emerging stars is one facet of what makes the APQEII Cup one of the world’s top Group 1 contests.”

Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (Group 1)

 Sunday 26 April 2015 – 2000m – Sha Tin – Turf

(HK$20 million / US$2.578 million)

Selected Runners

Country/ Region

Int’l Rating

Name of Horse

Age

Sex

Weight

Trainer

HK

123

**

Designs On Rome (IRE)

5

g

126

John Moore

HK

123

**

Military Attack (IRE)

7

g

126

Caspar Fownes

HK

121

 *

Blazing Speed (GB)

6

g

126

Tony Cruz

AUS

117

**

Criterion (NZ)

4

c

126

David Hayes

HK

115

 

Helene Super Star (USA)

5

g

126

Tony Cruz

GB

115

**

Red Cadeaux (GB)

9

g

126

Ed Dunlop

FR

115

 

Smoking Sun (USA)

6

h

126

Pascal Bary

HK

114

**

California Memory (USA)

9

g

126

Tony Cruz

JPN

113

 

Staphanos (JPN)

4

c

126

Hideaki Fujiwara

HK

110

 

Helene Happy Star (IRE)

4

g

126

John Moore

HK

107

 

Same World (GB)

7

g

126

John Moore

HK

105

 

Mr Gnocchi (AUS)

5

g

126

Danny Shum

HK

104

 

Packing Llaregyb (IRE)

5

g

126

Andreas Schutz
(13)

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