Preview- 2017 Hong Kong Vase

Free tips and preview of the 2017 Hong Kong Vase

Preview- 2017 Hong Kong Vase

The 2017 Hong Kong Vase hinges on the globe-trotting Highland Reel who makes his third appearance at the International Meeting – his fourth in Hong Kong overall – in what will be his final race start.

Highland Reel won the Hong Kong Vase in 2015
Highland Reel won the Hong Kong Vase in 2015 Picture:HKJC

Highland Reel won the Vase in 2015 before running second last year when collared late by the strong-staying Satono Crown in the fastest Vase this century.

Both wins are better form than the others in this race can boast with the possible exception of Talismanic who got the better of Highland Reel at Del Mar last time.

American turf form can live in a world of its own, though, with the tracks often quirky on account of the fact that they are built to fit with the dirt course. That's not to say that the Breeders Cup Turf isn't typically won by a top horse and/or a high-rating performance, but when taking the form elsewhere pre-race expectation can be as relevant as the result.

Highland Reel started $2.10 against Talismanic $15.00 which looks a fairly true reflection of the worth of their form away from Del Mar.

On the same score Chemical Charge had the better of Danehill Kodiac not only in expectation but in reality when they met at Kempton in September. Danehill Kodiac has posted slightly better form since, and Chemical Charge failed in Canada, but Chemical Charge still has to be marked the better chance of the two.

He may have the better chance in that race within the race but Chemical Charge faces a task on form with ~6.5 lengths to find against Highland Reel if the latter turns up at the top of his game.

Tiberian has twice had the better of Talismanic at home in France, and not much went right for him in the Melbourne Cup, but even without luck a midfield effort in Melbourne is hardly an inspiring lead into the Vase.

Red Cadeaux and Dunaden have come from Melbourne to land the Vase in the past, and Americain ran well, so Max Dynamite may have his admirers, but he was 20-1 at Flemington and his form is a ways short of the aforementioned trio. Adding to that, he faces a much stiffer task at Sha Tin with this Vase boasting a sharper top-end than the Vase’s of 2011 and 2012.

Before moving on from the European contingent (can post-Brexit Brits still fit that category?) we have to mention Smart Call, Sir Michael Stoute's former-South African mare who brings something completely different to the race.

She was a triple-Group 1 winner in South Africa and while she hasn't had that sort of success in five runs since moving to England, three of her runs have been fairly close to that level of form judged on Racing and Sports' ratings. Not hopeless, but much closer in chance to Danehill Kodiac than Highland Reel.

It took an emerging star from Japan to outmuscle Highland Reel last year and the search for his biggest threat in 2017 heads down the same path with the land of the rising sun responsible for two key runners, Kiseki and Tosen Basil.

Tosen Basil looks set to run well at Sha Tin on Sunday
Tosen Basil looks set to run well at Sha Tin on Sunday Picture:HKJC

The Japanese can be enigmatic in their travels. They have been responsible for some blistering performances on the world stage but they can crash and burn just as brightly.

Kiseki has the most star power of the two lining up here, having had a terrific back half of 2017 winning three from four, including the highly sort after St Leger, and the only horse to beat him in that run is the hugely talented Rey De Oro who has since run a cracking race in the Japan Cup.

In fact it's his second to Rey De Oro that should be seen as his best credential for the Vase ahead of his Leger win which, while being a strong show of stamina, came on testing ground no doubt rendering several ineffective.

Tosen Basil may not be as trendy as Kiseki - his two forays into Group 1 company have seen him start 60-1 and 80-1 and finish around 7 lengths from the winner - but he does come off a career best last time in a high-rating race.

The Kyoto Daishoten was noteworthy for it's terrific overall time and that strong performance provided a perfect springboard for third-placed Cheval Grand to reach a new peak and win the Japan Cup.

That wasn't the first time this year that Tosen Basil and Cheval Grand have met in a proper bunfight, the pair having filled the placings (Cheval Grand the better of the two this time) behind Satono Diamond in a high-pressure 3000m Group 2 at Hanshin back in March.

So twice now he has handled high-class heat - the sort of heat that Highland Reel will be out to apply on Sunday no doubt.

We'd best mention the locals before finishing up, though it must be said the Vase has not been a happy hunting ground for them and it's not getting any easier. Eagle Way is the highest-rated local but coming off a less than ideal preparation. Gold Mount has had the best preparation of the locals but he is still more than a couple of lengths from the lesser Europeans.

Assessed Market

Highland Reel: $3.00

Kiseki: $4.50

Tosen Basil: $5.50

Talismanic : $13.00

Chemical Charge: $26.00

Danehill Kodiac: $34.00

Max Dynamite: $34.00

Smart Call: $34.00

Tiberian : $41.00

Gold Mount: $51.00

Helene Charisma: $201.00

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