Weather A Concern – But Sha Tin Will Sizzle On Sunday!

Set the alarm - first is off at 06h45

What do Basil Marcus, Doug Whyte, Tony Millard, Silvano, Kevin Shea, Mike de Kock, Weichong Marwing, Anthony Delpech, David Ferraris, Glyn Schofield, Alec Laird and the late Laurie and Jean Jaffee, have in common?

They all tasted glory in the FWD QE11 Cup, which is run for a stake of the equivalent of just over R67 million and headlines a smashing treble Gr1 feature FWD Champions Day card at Sha Tin on Sunday – first is off at 06h45.

A now retired Milnerton trainer, and South Africa’s most qualified assistant trainer to his son Adam, Basil Marcus won the QE11 Cup aboard River Verdon in 1992.

With three wins apiece, Douglas Whyte (2011 Ambitious Dragon, 1998 Oriental Express, 1997 London News) and Mick Kinane (2007 Viva Pataca, 1995 Red Bishop, 1994 Deerfield) are the winning-most jockeys in recent FWD QEII Cup history.

1997 QEII Cup

1997 QEII Cup – London News

1997 winner London News raced in the famous red,white and black silks of Laurie and Jean Jaffee and was trained by Alec Laird, who will be bidding for his second Hollywoodbets Durban July winner this year after London News won it in 1996.

Tony Millard trained Doug Whyte’s 2011 winner, Ambitious Dragon.

Glyn Schofield rode 2004 QE11 winner River Dancer for John Size.

Present day Hollywood Syndicate Racing Manager Anthony Delpech and David Ferraris teamed up with 2005 QE11 winner Vengeance Of Rain.

Vengeance Of Rain (photo: HKJC)

Vengeance Of Rain (Pic-  HKJC)

Mike de Kock trained two QE11 Cup winners. In 2006 Weichong Marwing was aboard Irridescence for Team Valor, while two years later Kevin Shea steered subsequent stallion Archipenko to victory.

The QE11 Cup attained international G2 status in 1999 before it became Hong Kong’s fourth international G1 race in 2001, the year in which the German raider, and subsequent multiple SA champion sire Silvano took the winner’s share of the HK$10 million purse under Andreas Suborics.

Silvano wins the Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup

Silvano wins the Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup

That stake leapt to HK$14 million in 2002 when the race was included in the now defunct World Racing Championships series.

Mauritian born SAJA graduate Karis Teetan is the closest ‘South African’ connection to any of the three Gr1 contests on Sunday, and will be hoping for another stroke of magic aboard Hong Kong debutant Little Brose in the HK$22 million Chairman’s Sprint Prize. Karis won the speed test on Mr Stunning in 2020.

The Australian import will be the youngest horse in the race as a three-year-old, but he is already among the field’s most accomplished contenders, having landed the Gr1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) as a two-year-old last February.

Previous SAJA graduates to triumph in the Chairman’s Sprint prize are Felix Coetzee, who won it in 2004 and 2005 on Silent Witness, Weichong Marwing (2001- Fairy King Prawn), Basil Marcus (2000- Tajasur/1996 & 1995– Mr Vitality / 1993 – Red Ruffian/ 1992 – Concert King), Doug Whyte (1998 – Oriental Express) and Bartie Leisher, who scored on Handclap back in 1987.

In 1975 Queen Elizabeth II arrived in Hong Kong for a state visit. To mark the event, on 5 May, the Hong Kong Jockey Club staged the inaugural running of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, with a prize fund of HK$50,000.

Her Majesty was in attendance at Happy Valley and presented the winning trophy to Mr. and Mrs. Barma, whose horse Nazakat had prevailed in the 1575m sand track handicap under Malaysian rider A. K. Cheam for trainer Cheung Hok-man.

Insurance brand FWD is the title sponsor of the QEII Cup and has been since 2019. The race’s total prize money increased to HK$28 million this year, making it the third-richest race on the Hong Kong racing calendar. The race was ranked equal 30th in the IFHA World’s Top 100 G1’s in 2023.

Romantic Warrior has the chance to become the first three-time FWD QEII Cup winner after his triumphs in 2022 and 2023.

The Hong Kong Jockey always provide fireworks! (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Trainer David Hall, speaking with 20 years’ experience in Hong Kong and echoing the thoughts of most with local knowledge, insists the Sha Tin track conditions will be largely determined by the weather on race-day.

“It all comes down to the weather on Sunday,” Hall told international media on Friday morning.

“I know you’ve seen it rain constantly right through the week but provided there’s no deluge on Sunday the track is likely to be good or very close to it.”

Don’t forget to have your Hollywoodbets Punters’ Challenge entry in by no later than 06h40.

Racing starts at 06h45.

Bet into Tabgold and watch all the action on Gallop TV.

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