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19/03/02 Aussie Stars Nominate for Hong Kong Feature

r6oldcomrade.jpg (11512 bytes)Eight Australians are among 62 international entries received for the HK$14 million Audemars Piguet QEII Cup which will be run at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on April 21.

Hong Kong officials are thrilled with the level and quality of the international gallopers which have been nominated for the race which is valued at close to A$4 million.

"We are very pleased with the positive response the race has one again received," the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Executive Director of Racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

"Owners and trainers that were here for the International Races are keen to come back - five out of the first six home in last December's Hong Kong Cup, for example, hold entries."

r5dashforcash.jpg (8873 bytes)"And there are plenty of exciting new names on the list. The early signs are that a fantastic race is in store," he added.

A major reason behind the increased growth in this year's event is put down to a 40% increase in prizemoney and the inclusion of the race into the World Series Racing Championship.

The 2000 metre Group One event has no fewer than 22 individual Group One winners from ten countries entered. There are 15 horses rated 115 or higher on the international classification.

The first and second horses past the post in last week's Australian Cup, Old Comrade and Northerly, have both been nominated by their respective trainers, Lindsey Smith and Fred Kersley.

r6northerly5.jpg (9610 bytes)Saturday's beaten Darley Stakes favourite Shogun Lodge (Bob Thomsen) and the in form Melbourne based three-year-old Dash for Cash (Rick Hore-Lacy) have also been entered.

Also among the Australian entries are the last start stakes winners Universal Prince (Bede Murray), Lonhro (John Hawkes) and Hey Pronto (Gai Waterhouse). Robert Rosengreen has also entered the evergreen El Mirada.

New Zealand is represented by four entries and as usual their queen of the track Sunline heads that country's charge. Also entered are Mackinnon Stakes heroine La Bella Dama (Graeme Rogeron), recent St Leger winner Hail (Bruce Marsh) and the consistent So Casual (Ross Taylor).

Of the international brigade Val Royal is the highest rated of the early nominations. A winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (1600m) in record breaking time at Belmont Park, Val Royal was set to visit Hong Kong late last year for the Hong Kong Cup before a training setback on the eve of his American departure.

Another highly rated American entry is the Jonathan Sheppard trained With Anticipation. A dual Grade One winner over 2200m and 2400m last year, With Anticipation was America's leading turf stayer for 2001.

1024universalprince.jpg (17018 bytes)The Japanese raiders Eishin Preston and Agnes Digital was gunning for a HK$1 million bonus for connections after wins at the International meet in December. The winners of the Hong Kong Mile and Cup respectively, are both expected to return to try and repeat the dose at Sha Tin again in April.

Eishin Preston, the second highest rated galloper (behind Val Royal), is trained by Shuji Kitahashi, while the JRA's Champion Older Horse of 2001, Agnes Digital won at his racetrack return in the Feburary Stakes recently - giving him five straight wins.

The European charge is again headed by the perennial champion Jim and Tonic. The gelding will be having his eighth start in Hong Kong in the Group One event next month. Incredibly, Jim and Tonic has only been out of the frame in Hong Kong once before.

The Germans are keen the retain the race they won last year with the globetrotting gelding Silvano. Last year's Derby winner Boreal and the multiple Group One winner Paolini head the charge from Germany.

r6lonhro.jpg (14872 bytes)Hawkeye, is the highest-rated British-based contender. At his last trip to Hong Kong he finished a close fourth in the Hong Kong Cup. Other trainers with entries include David Elsworth (of Persian Punch fame in Australia) and Mark Johnston (best known with Double Trigger).

Horse representing the United Arab Emirates swept away with the prestigious race in 1995 and 1996. Saeed bin Suroor and the powerful Godolphin operation are again targeting the race. Grandera and Ekraar look to be the leading hopes from Dubai.

Former New Zealand trainer Laurie Laxon has nominated the former multiple Group One winning in India, Saddle Up, which appears the be the leading chance from Singapore. Melbourne's own John Meagher has also entered a runner, Petroselli.

Northerly (AUS) - Fred Kersley       
Shogun Lodge (AUS) - Bob Thomsen       
Universal Prince (AUS) - Bede Murray       
Old Comrade (AUS) - Lindsey Smith       
Lonhro (AUS) - John Hawkes       
Dash for Cash (AUS) - Rick Hore-Lacy       
El Mirada (AUS) - Robert Rosengreen       
Hey Pronto (NZ) - Gai Waterhouse       
FRANCE (11)   
Jim and Tonic (FR) - Francois Doumen       
Terre A Terre (FR) - Eric Libaud       
Okawango (USA) - Christiane Head       
King of Tara (IRE) - Francois Doumen       
Keltos (FR) - Carlos Laffon-Parias       
Lethals Lady (GB) - Robert Collet       
Foundation Spirit (FR) - Francois Doumen       
Mont Rocher (FR) - John Hammond       
Execute (FR) - John Hammond       
Bedawin (FR) - Francois Doumen       
Glowing Beam (GB) - Christiane Head       
Hawkeye (IRE) - Michael Jarvis       
Compton Bolter (IRE) - Gerald Butler       
Pawn Broker (GB) - David Elsworth       
Indian Creek (GB) - David Elsworth       
Leo's Luckyman (USA) - Mark Johnston       
Scottish River (USA) - Mark Johnston       
Freefourinternet (USA) - Brian Meehan       
Desert Deer (GB) - Mark Johnston       
Prize Winner (GB) - Jeremy Noseda       
Adiemus (GB) - Jeremy Noseda       
GERMANY (5)   
Boreal (GER) - Peter Schiergen       
Paolini (GER) - Andreas Wohler       
Zollner (GER) - Peter Schiergen       
Pryor (GER) - Andreas Schutz       
Krombacher (GER) - Peter Rau       
JAPAN (5)   
Eishin Preston (USA) - Shuji Kitahashi       
Agnes Digital (USA) - Toshiaki Shirai       
Matikane Kinnohosi (USA) - Kazuo Fujisawa       
Magnaten (USA) - Kazuo Fujisawa       
Rascal Suzuka (JPN) - Mitsuru Hashida       
Sunline (NZ) - Trevor McKee       
La Bella Dama (NZ) - Graeme Rogerson       
So Casual (NZ) - Ross Taylor       
Hail (NZ) - Bruce Marsh       
Polo Classic (SAF) - Terry Lowe       
Saddle Up (IND) - Laurie Laxon       
Petroselli (IRE) - John Meagher       
Grandera (IRE) - Saeed bin Suroor       
Ekraar (USA) - Saeed bin Suroor       
Celtic Silence (GB) - Saeed bin Suroor       
Atlantis Prince (GB) - Saeed bin Suroor       
USA (12)
Val Royal (FR) - Julio Canani       
With Anticipation (USA) - Jonathan Sheppard       
Irish Prize (USA) - Neil Drysdale
Continental Red (USA) - Ian Jory       
Band is Passing (USA) - Stanley Ersoff       
Del Mar Show (USA) - William Mott       
Western Pride (USA) - Jim Chapman       
Muntej (GB) - Roger Attfield       
Mr. Pleasentfar (BRZ) - Martin D Wolfson       
Strategic Partner (USA) - Mark Hennig       
Drama Critic (USA) - Mark Hennig       
Masaccio (BRZ) - Martin D Wolfson       

Total number of overseas entries: 62

PICS - Quentin Lang.

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