De Kock runners for QEII

Sanshaawes and Vercingetorix stretch their legs at Sha Tin

Vercingetorix

Vercingetorix stretches his legs

Mike de Kock’s Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup candidates, Vercingetorix and Sanshaawes, appeared at Sha Tin for the first time this morning, having a light workout on the all-weather track under the supervision of assistant trainer Trevor Brown.  Brown reported: “Both horses traveled very well. They’ve arrived safe and sound and just needed a stretch of the legs this morning. It’s all good at the moment. No issues. They’re well used to travelling these horses from home (South Africa).”

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup was established by the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1975 to to commemorate a visit to Hong Kong by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. The race evolved into an international event in 1995. Originally run at the Happy Valley Racecourse over 2200m, the race changed to its current distance of 2000m in 1997, the year it was won by South African-bred London News.  The race has grown into one of Hong Kong’s major sporting events since renowned Swiss Watchmaker Audemars Piguet took over the sponsorship in 1999 and it received Group One status in 2001 currently offering a purse of HK$14 million (US$1.8 million).

Sanshaawes

Sanshaawes working at Sha Tin with his hood

South African horses have an illustrious association with the race. London News was the first to lift the Cup for Alec Laird and Laurie and Jean Jaffee in 1997, followed by champion filly Irridescence in 2006 for Mike de Kock and Team Valor. Our jockeys and trainers also feature heavily on the honour roll with Dougie Whyte winning in 1997 (London News), 1998 (Oriental Express) & 2011 (Ambitious Dragon), Anthony Delpech in 2005 (Vengeance Of Rain), Weichong Marwing in 2006 (Irridescence) & 2010 (Viva Pataca) and Kevin Shea in 2008 (Archipenko). Alec Laird was the first South African trainer to win it in 1997 (London News), followed by Mike de Kock in 2006 (Irridescence) & 2008 (Archipenko) and Tony Millard in 2011 (Ambitious Dragon).

The favoured Akeed Mofeed, winner of last year’s Hong Kong Cup and fifth in the Dubai World Cup, was withdrawn by trainer Richard Gibson after pulling up lame after exercise on Tuesday morning. His defection means that a field of ten are left to face the starter on Sunday.

De Kock, chasing a third win in the race, had this to say about his charges: “Sanshaawes is a very honest horse, where he may lack a little bit of class – he gets going as well and he goes a little more than 2000m, whereas Vercingetorix is at his top end at 2000m, so they’re slightly different horses but I would side with Vercingetorix.”

‘Mauritian Magician’ Karis Teetan has also received a call up to pilot the French-bred Uncoiled for Yoshito Yahagi

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