Highland Reel among European stars set for international showpiece
Highland Reel looks likely to defend his Hong Kong Vase crown at Sha Tin next month after he featured among 56 selected runners for the end-of-season Hong Kong International Races.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained globetrotter will be joined on the journey east by stablemate Cougar Mountain, who is set to line up in the Hong Kong Mile at the December 11 fixture.
O’Brien said: "The plan for Highland Reel is to go for the Hong Kong Vase. He seems to be fine since his Breeders’ Cup win and we would look forward to running him if he’s fit and well. He’s very versatile and handles the track well and is very professional and takes his racing well.
He added: "Cougar Mountain will join him in transit and will run in the Hong Kong Mile. He'll love the fast ground and should excel in a fast run mile as he likes a strong pace."
Joining Highland Reel in the Vase will be Big Orange, whose international adventure continues after two runs in Australia, including a tenth-placed effort in the Melbourne Cup this month.
In the Hong Kong Sprint, King's Stand Stakes hero Profitable features among the entries, as does the Richard Fahey-trained Growl, winner of the Listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster this month.
France looks set to be well represented at the meeting, with Silverwave, Erupt, Garlingari and One Foot In Heaven in line for the Vase and Signs Of Blessing going for the Sprint. Elliptique, meanwhile, is entered for the Hong Kong Cup, with trainer Andre Fabre seeking a third win at the meeting.
The three other winners from last year will all return to Sha Tin, although instead of defending his Mile title, Japanese heavyweight Maurice will join A Shin Hikari in the Cup, while domestic star Peniaphobia is once again in the Sprint picture.
Tony Kelly, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's executive director, racing business and operations, said: "We are pleased to see the depth of quality to the selected runners for the 2016 races."