Mrs. Carde Ostemann-Richter's international star Paolini has been withdrawn from the Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) and will be replaced by local runner Blue Stitch. The $3.2 million Hong Kong Cup, run at 1 1/4 miles, is the centerpiece of the Hong Kong International Races to be held at Sha Tin on Dec. 14. Paolini finished second in last year's Cup behind Anabar.

Paolini, a German-bred 6-year-old trained by Andreas Wohler, has earned $2,453,469 from 23 starts and was named Horse of the Year in Germany in 2002. He has raced in nine countries on three continents. In his last start, he finished in a dead heat for third in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) and was elevated to second following the disqualification of the first-place finisher Storming Home.

Trained by Tony Millard, Blue Stitch is a useful 4-year-old gelding winning over HK$3.3million ($392,566), and may well have been a leading contender for the last season's Hong Kong Derby but for a training setback late last year.

By Selkirk, out of the Shareef Dancer mare Possessive Artiste, Blue Stitch bounced back, and has won four times this year, twice at a mile and once at 1 1/4 miles. On June 1 he met with interference in the stretch when staying on well in the ING Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup (HK-I), running sixth in his only attempt at the distance.

In his last start, Blue Stitch was third, beaten four lengths, in the $386,400 International Mile Trial at Sha Tin on Nov. 22.

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