Aidan O’Brien fields four runners at LONGINES Hong Kong International Races

With Luxembourg fronting a squad which is represented in each one of the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR), it is unlikely that Aidan O’Brien will have ever arrived at the meeting with such strength in depth.

Luxembourg winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at Curragh in Ireland.
Luxembourg winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at Curragh in Ireland. Picture: Pat Healy

It may well be a reflection of the standard of horse at Ballydoyle, which includes the Derby and Breeders' Cup winner Auguste Rodin and Europe's most exciting two-year-old, City Of Troy.

Luxembourg , who was beaten only half a length by Auguste Rodin in attempting to defend his title in September's G1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m), leads the line in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and is one of the highest profile runners that has been brought to Sha Tin by one of the world's foremost trainers.

"We were training him for the Champion Stakes (G1, 2000m) in England and he got a foot bruise, it just held him up for a couple of weeks that's why didn't go there," O'Brien said.

"Obviously it was a great run in the Irish Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter, he's versatile we think and he likes nice ground. We're looking forward to him."

O'Brien has a record three victories in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) and this time he has nominated the filly Warm Heart, winner of the G1 Yorkshire Oaks and G1 Prix Vermeille at 2400m and fresh from a neck defeat to Inspiral in the G1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at 2000m.

"We were debating what we'd do, I suppose either of them could have gone either way but we just felt it was a very good run in the Irish Champion Stakes from Luxembourg," the trainer explained.

"Warm Heart ran over 10 furlongs in America but she'd won her two Group 1s over a mile and a half.

"She's been very progressive, she's thrived physically, loves nicer ground, she's tactically quick and she doesn't surrender. She's been unbelievable really."

One about whom we may well hear more of in the future is G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile-bound Cairo, who was second to his prolific stablemate Paddington in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas (1600m) and returned from a break over the European summer to finish a close third in a Listed race over the same distance at Leopardstown in late October. 

"We were hopeful he'd get into Hong Kong but he had to have a run," O'Brien said. 

"We were delighted with him. He obviously got a bit tired, the ground was very soft and wasn't ideal but his run before when he was second to Paddington was on nice ground and we've been very happy with his work since. 

"We think he's progressed plenty. We always thought and hoped he could be a horse that could go on to a lot of those races all over the world."

The last member of a quartet due to arrive this weekend is in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m). 

Three-year-old colt Aesop's Fables has finished a narrow third in two Group 1 events over 1000m, behind Highfield Princess in the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp and then Nobals in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

O'Brien said: "He's been progressive all the time. We put the blinkers on before France, we were delighted there and then he ran a stormer in America.

"He's a big horse, maybe he just took a bit of time to get the hang of it.

"His best two runs were over five furlongs but he looks like he's been coming home well in both runs. There's every chance he should be ok over six but we'll learn a lot more about him."

 


Hong Kong Jockey Club