Hong Kong Jockey Club Press Release
The 14 talented four-year-olds destined to contest the 2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin 11 days hence were unveiled during a media conference at Happy Valley Racecourse this afternoon, Wednesday, 6 March.
This year’s edition of the HK$18 million classic holds plenty of depth and features the Derby top-rated galloper Waikuku, trained by John Size, as well as a sparkling trio from the Frankie Lor stable, Furore, Dark Dream and Mission Tycoon.
The BMW Hong Kong Derby dates back to 1873 and is the race that every Hong Kong horseman dreams of winning. The 2000-metre contest, which will be run at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 17 March, is the third and final leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
The first two legs fell to Lor in just his second season with a trainer’s licence: the high-class Furore, third in the G1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) pre-import, took the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) from stablemate Mission Tycoon; the latter then turned the tables, making all to win the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) from the third Lor contender, last year’s G1 Queensland Derby (2200m) hero Dark Dream.
Meanwhile, Waikuku has worked his way through the handicap grades, sealing a domestic rating of 108 for an impressive fourth win on the bounce in a Class 2 contest over 1800m on 2 March. The Irish import is seeking to hand Size a second Derby victory in a row – following on from Ping Hai Star in 2018 – and fourth overall.
Mr. Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, said: “The BMW Hong Kong Derby is the race every Hong Kong owner wants to win and that is expressed in the quality we see in this year’s line-up.
“The race has all the elements needed to produce a thrilling series decider. The form of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series looks strong with horses of a proven high calibre filling the frame in the first two races. And then we have Waikuku, a rising star stepping into the fray off some impressive efforts in the handicap grades, much like Ping Hai Star last year.
“The signs are good that this year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby will live up to its billing as a race that produces the champions of the future. Able Friend, Designs On Rome, Ambitious Dragon and Hong Kong’s current brilliant standout Beauty Generation are just some of the stars that took the Derby route to the very top and it is looking likely that this year’s crop will produce another worthy hero at Sha Tin on 17 March.”
The 2019 field is full of talent. The Tony Cruz-trained Ka Ying Star won three of four races in Britain and, after winning his first start in Hong Kong, has placed third in both the Hong Kong Classic Mile and Hong Kong Classic Cup.
Cruz won the Derby four times as a jockey and has two wins on the board as a trainer. He will also saddle Helene Leadingstar, successful in the G1 South Australian Derby (2500m) last May and a staying on fifth in the Hong Kong Classic Cup last time.
Size, meanwhile, will not rely solely on the rising star Waikuku. The champion trainer also has the promising stayer Enrichment – a course and distance winner two runs back and G2-placed in Australia – as well as the three-time winner Red Warrior and two-time scorer Mr So And So.
Harmony Victory, from the Danny Shum stable, is a two-time G1 winner in Brazil, including at 2000m, and landed an 1800m Class 2 win at Sha Tin in November.
The David Hall-trained Ho Ho Khan climbed the ranks with a hat-trick this term before running seventh in the Hong Kong Classic Cup; Gold Chest from the Richard Gibson stable is an unexposed talent with a Group 1 pedigree; the Chris So-trained Tianchi Monster earned his Derby berth with three wins from his last four starts; and the John Moore-trained Sunny Speed stepped up with a fine fourth to Waikuku last time, at just his second outing in Hong Kong.
Horses that have tasted Derby glory on their way to Group 1 success include Viva Pataca (2006), Designs On Rome (2014) and Werther (2016). In 2017, Rapper Dragon’s Derby win meant that the chestnut gelding became the first horse to win all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.