Japan Cup (Jpn-I) winner Alkaased is just one of many international standouts expected for the Dec. 11 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin Racecourse.Alkaased, who won the Japan Cup in world-record time for 2,400 meters, is listed for the group I, HK$14-million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase at 2,400 meters. Ouija Board and Warrsan, who finished behind Alkaased in the Japan Cup, intend to travel to Hong Kong for the Vase, the Hong Kong Jockey Club reported.The other three group I races on the program are the HK$18-million Cathay Pacific Hong Cup at 2,000 meters, the HK$14-million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile at 1,600 meters, and the HK$10 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint at 1,000 meters.The Hong Kong Jockey Club announced that Rakti, nominated for the Cup and the Mile, would compete in the Mile. Five of his last seven starts have been at 1,600 meters, including two group I victories.In other news, Camdak won't compete in the Mile; Yard-Arm and Whilly will pass on the Cup; and Bowman's Crossing and Oriental Magic won't run in the Vase. Published reports have indicated Silent Witness won't go in the Sprint, though a final decision hasn't been made.The first international arrival was the 5-year-old mare Nicole's Dream, owned by Dare To Dream Stable and trained by Larry Rivelli. Based in the United States, Nicole's Dream has won 20 of 42 starts (16 wins in 28 turf starts) in her career and has earned more than a half-million dollars. The turf-sprint specialist will race in the Sprint.Cathay Pacific airlines will sponsor of the International Races for the second consecutive year. The races attracted 29 international entries, including 19 individual group I winners.The week's festivities include the International Jockeys' Championship Dec. 7 at Happy Valley Racecourse, where the Hong Kong Jockey Club has opened new owner facilities concentrated in one area. The project, which began this summer, includes an owners' box, two scenic elevators, an owners' pavilion and champagne terrace, and the new Home Straight Restaurant.
"These days, there's a lot of competition for people's entertainment and leisure dollar, so the aim of the project has been to increase people's comfort and enhance the racing experience for everyone who comes on course--not just owners but also members and the general public," Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, executive director of racing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said in a release. "We hope they will enjoy the new experience and bring their friends here."