Look to Japan for price plays in Hong Kong International Races

December 8th, 2023

With the exception of the Hong Kong Vase (G1), the home team for Sunday's Hong Kong International races sure seems locked and loaded. Romantic Warrior, Golden Sixty, and Lucky Sweynesse all figure to be favored in the other three events, and might very well come through at short prices.

But what are some potentially capable longer shots to consider against these formidable beasts? Here are a trio of contenders I'll be looking at as each-way propositions and to include in exotics with the heavy favorites they'll be opposing.

Hong Kong Sprint (G1) β€” Race 5 (1:50 a.m. ET)

Although there are a pair of solid European-based horses in the lineup, the fact is the only region that has broken the stranglehold locally-based runners have had on this race in the last decade is Japan.

#3 Mad Cool is the lesser exposed of the two Japanese invaders in this race, and exits a nose defeat in the Sprinters (G1) at Nakayama in early October, which was his first outing since July and only his second since mid-April.

Mad Cool broke fast and was able to quickly assume a ground-saving position on the rail in the Sprinters. He made a nice move in between rivals approaching the finish, but his rally fell a touch short. With a mere 10 starts behind him (five of them wins), Mad Cool remains with upside.

Hong Kong Mile (G1) β€” Race 7 (3 a.m. ET)

Golden Sixty will be aiming to win this race for a third time, though attempting to do so without a run since April 30 gives cause for pause at the available price.

Six of the last 10 winners of the Mile have come off a winning effort, with three of them landing the final local prep, the Jockey Club Mile (G2). #7 Beauty Eternal won this year's renewal, on Nov. 19, in a head bob over returning rival Beauty Joy.

Nonetheless, the five-year-old has an excellent 8-for-12 record. As he showed last time, he tends to smoothly ease himself into contention from a stalking position, and a well-timed bid would put him in the thick of battle inside the final furlong or two.

Hong Kong Cup (G1) β€” Race 8 (3:40 a.m. ET)

This is another race where Japan has had strong success, winning half of the editions over the past decade. The other half have been been won by the home team, and generally relies on Romantic Warrior, who convincingly won this last year and exits a celebrated victory in the Cox Plate (G1), Australia's top weight-for-age event.

Romantic Warrior will probably prove too hard for #4 Rousham Park to handle, but the Japanese raider, like Mad Cool earlier on the card, isn't too exposed. The son of European star Harbinger hails from a highly productive female family and enters on a three-race win streak, the latest in a Group 2 at Nakayama. The big, long-striding colt might take a welcome step forward at Sha Tin and run creditably.