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Hong Kong International Races not the only thing worth speculating on

Steve Moran | 14.11.2018

I have settled in Hong Kong to undertake early reconnaissance on this year’s Longines International meeting on Sunday, December 9.

That begins in earnest this Sunday with the trial races for the Sprint, the Mile and the Cup with all the usual suspects – Pakistan Star, Time Warp, Werther, Glorious Forever, Beauty Generation, Southern Legend and Singapore Sling, along with the John Size-trained quintet of quality sprinters taking on Mr Stunning, whom he formerly trained.

Size has Hot King Prawn, who’s won eight of nine starts, Ivictory, who’s won seven of ten including the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, D B Pin, who’s been in the money 13 of 14 starts and was runner-up in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint,  Beat The Clock who’s never missed a place in 15 starts and Premiere, who resumes after four straight wins.

I would guess that Hot King Prawn, Beat The Clock and Ivictory (turning his form around) might be the pick of his – in that order – after speaking to the champion trainer yesterday but it’s just that – a guess.

I arrive as Michael Freedman leaves, which is a bit of a shame. One less Australian ally but nothing went right for Freedman from the word go in Hong Kong and he’s keen to return to Randwick in Sydney where, in fact, his stable had been in stellar form immediately before his departure.

His departure will open the door for someone else and there’s no shortage of Australians here, on and off the track from the extremely well known figures like Size and John Moore (who must retire at the end of next season) and David Hall plus jockeys Zac Purton, Chad Schofield and Sam Clipperton to numerous Hong Kong Jockey Club employees, bloodstock agents and journalists.

Thus it’s easy to slip into the expat Hong Kong lifestyle which is, basically, the pub every night of the week as confined Hong Kong style apartment living is not conducive to nights in.

Nonetheless, it is one of the world’s great cities where you are far more likely to see someone with a form-guide than your wallet in their hands.

As to who might replace Freedman and/or Moore, that can only be a matter of speculation given the delicate nature of such dealings here. The Jockey Club won’t comment until a deal is done and potential applicants don’t want to jeopardise a possible appointment by publicly discussing same.

Age is a factor – fifty about the limit. A Group 1 winner on the CV is a must and, for expats, good contacts in Hong Kong are considered highly desirable. In fact, that final factor is now more critical than desirable and might well work in favour of two prominent Sydney based trainers – assuming they’re interested.

The success last season of training newcomer Frankie Lor and this season of Jimmy Ting has prompted the HKJC to consider that these days it is all about connections and that it’s probably easier for a local, than an expat, to hit the ground running.

Ting leads the premiership with 16 winners, which is a remarkable achievement. Lor, similarly, was in front at the same time last season but was overhauled by Size who claimed his tenth title.

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