Hong Kong Cup

History of the Hong Kong Cup – The Hong Kong Cup was first held in 1988 when it was restricted to horses trained in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. In 1989, horses from Australia and New Zealand were permitted to enter with horses from Europe invited in 1990. Entries from the USA followed in 1991 with Canada and Japan the following year. The race was awarded Group One status in 1999.

The Cup is open to racehorses aged three years or older and takes place over a mile and a quarter at Sha Tin in mid December. The Cup is one of the four Hong Kong International Races and offers a purse in excess of US$2.5 million.

The Winners of the Hong Kong Cup

The inaugural running was won by Flying Dancer, a New Zealand-bred gelding owned by Hong Kong businessman Lim Por-yen. The race quickly began to attract a better class of animal from Europe and the Geoff Wragg-trained First Island became the first British-trained winner of the race in 1996.

First Island was a son of Dominion who showed himself to be a top class colt when winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. He stayed in training in 1997 and won the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury but tragically died a month later.

The French enjoyed success in 1999 with Jim And Tonic, trained by Francois Doumen. The gelding also won the Hong Kong Bowl the previous season.

Fantastic Light became the second British winner of the race in 2000 for Saeed Bin Suroor and Frankie Dettori in the colours of Godolphin.

Fantastic Light was bred in the United States but trained in England and Dubai. He won Grade One races in five countries and was twice winner of the Emirates World Series Racing Championship. He was awarded United States Champion Male Turf Horse, European Horse of the Year and European Champion Older Horse in 2001.

He is probably best remembered for his two clashes with the 2001 Epsom Derby winner Galileo. Aidan O’Brien’s colt beat Fantastic Light in the King George but the positions were reversed in a thrilling tussle for the Irish Champion Stakes. He went on cap a glorious career by winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Dettori won the race again in 2003 aboard Falbrav for Luca Cumani. Falbrav also won Grade One races in five different countries including the Japan Cup, the Eclipse Stakes and the Juddmonte International Stakes. Dettori described Falbrav’s two-length victory over Rakti in the Hong Kong Cup as “electric… He just flew. He took my breath away”. Falbrav holds the race record at 2:00.90.

Alexander Goldrun provided Ireland with a first victory in the race the following year. She was trained by Jim Bolger and retired with a race record of ten victories and nearly £2million in prize money. Perhaps her greatest performance came in defeat when beaten a short head by Ouija Board in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

The French enjoyed success in the race in 2006 with Pride. The outstanding filly also finished second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and won the Champion Stakes and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Dettori secured a record third success in the race in 2007 aboard Ramonti.

Ramonti won eight races in Italy before being purchased by Godolphin and sent to Britain to be trained by Saeed Bin Suroor. He won the Queen Anne Stakes, the Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes before winning the Hong Kong Cup.

Britain’s most recent victory in the event came with Snow Fairy in 2010. Ed Dunlop’s filly had won the English and Irish Oaks before being sent over to Sha Tin.

Hong Kong Cup 2012

California Memory became the first horse to win the race twice when successfully defending his title in 2012. The grey son of Highest Honor out of Kalpita was sold to race in Hong Kong after only four races in France. In 2011 he became one of Hong Kong’s most successful racehorses, winning the Hong Kong Gold Cup, the Sha Tin Trophy and the Hong Kong Cup.

Hong Kong Cup 2013

California Memory was seeking an unprecedented third straight victory in the race. However, he beat only one home after suffering an irregular heartbeat. The race was won by Military Attack, trained by John Moore and ridden by Zac Purton. The race provided the trainer with a record fifth success in the race.

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