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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Sha Tin guide: punting pointers and essential information

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What's on? The Longines Hong Kong International Races on Sunday features four Group 1 races, with prize-money of HK$84.5 million (approximately £8.1m/€9.2m), comprising of the Vase (1m4f), Sprint (6f), Mile and Cup (1m2f). Stars such as Falbrav, Snow Fairy and Ouija Board have won at the meeting. 

Who's running? The star act this year is Highland Reel, who is set for the final race in a remarkable career which has seen him become Europe's leading prize-money earner of all time. He runs in the Vase, which he won in 2015 and was only narrowly beaten in last year. His trainer Aidan O'Brien also runs Roly Poly and Lancaster Bomber in the Mile, while Deauville and War Decree represent him in the Cup. Other familiar names such as Max Dynamite and Poet's Word feature among a numerically-strong European team.

What time does it start: The first of the international races starts at 6am GMT, and it is one you will not want to miss as it is the Vase, featuring Highland Reel and Breeders' Cup Turf conqueror Talismanic. The last of the Group 1s, the Cup, takes place at 8.30am. The meeting commences with three local races from 4.25am. 

How can I watch it? At The Races and Racing UK will be showing the entire card.

Watering taking place on the Sha Tin turf track

What's the ground like? The ground has been watered to maintain good going. Trainers and officials have been complimentary about the surface. Former champion jockey Kevin Darley, representing Qatar Racing, said: "It's lively ground, no doubt, but it's so well maintained that there are no excuses." Newmarket director of racing Michael Prosser, a regular visitor to Sha Tin, said: "I've not seen it look so well."

Is the draw important? Low numbers could be an advantage. Darley said: "The draw is more significant over shorter trips. I think initial gate speed is essential." Local trainer Tony Millard added: "The draw in the 2,400m [1m4f] makes no difference, that's not an issue, but in the 2,000m [1m2f] it does as they jump and then have to go on the turn. For the Sprint it is critical [to be low].

Where can I see the runners? Follow this link to the card

Which horses shall I back? Read Graham Cunningham's verdict 

The draw is more significant over shorter trips. I think initial gate speed is essential
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