A majority of the horses for the four Hong Kong International Races stretched their legs over the dirt track at Sha Tin Racecourse Wednesday morning. The Hong Kong International Races take place Sunday afternoon.
Racing in Hong Kong will take place Wednesday evening at Happy Valley Racecourse. The main event is the International Jockey Championship.
While it was overcast at daybreak, the sun broke through the clouds by 9 a.m. The temperature in the morning was in the low 60s.
One of the few American entrants, Mister Acpen, galloped after taking a tour of the new winner's enclosure just off the finish line. The winner's enclosure is a temporary facility as the Hong Kong Jockey Club continues construction of a new, eight-story, retractable-roof, saddling paddock behind the grandstand.
Aboard Mister Acpen was trainer Kristin Mulhall, daugther of Richard Mulhall, president of The Thoroughbred Corp. Mister Acpen is owned by Californians Neil Papiano, Steve Taub, and Noctise Stable, headed by Mulhall. He will go in the $1.8 million Hong Kong Mile (HK-I).
Sharon Papiano was on hand for the exercise while her husband remains in the United States. "It's nice to have a trainer who can ride the horse," she said. Richard Mulhall was also in attendance. They have been in Hong Kong since Monday morning.
Mister Acpen, a Chilean-bred 5-year-old horse by Golden Voyager, has won two of seven starts this year and shipped to Hong Kong off a third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Citation Handicap (gr .IIT) at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29. Earlier in the year, the El Derby (Chi-I) winner won the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) and ran a good second behind Storming Home in the Charles Whittingham Handicap (gr. IT).
Among those looking strong in their morning gallops were fellow Mile runner Telegnosis, representing Japan; Hong Kong Vase (HK-I) runners Maktub and Sabiango; Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) runner National Currency; and Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) runner Eishin Preston.
Telegnosis, a 4-year-old by Tony Bin, is winless since May, but has been running in group I company since. He was third against eventual Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Six Perfections in the Prix Jacques Le Marois when shipped to France in August. With an international rating of 117, he is the third-highest rated horse in the expected nine-horse field.
Maktub, representing Italy in the 1 1/2-mile Vase was second in the Gran Premio Del Jockey Club (Ity-I) in mid October. The German-bred Sabiango is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Canadian International (gr. IT) at Woodbine. He was fifth behind Sulamani in the Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont in September. By German stallion Acatenango, Sabiano is trained by Andreas Wohler.
The South African horse National Currency has drawn raves from those who have seen the 4-year-old in Hong Kong. He has won four straight in South Africa, once at five furlongs and three times at six furlongs. The Hong Kong Sprint is run at a straight five furlongs.
Eishin Preston galloped stoutly over the turf course late in the morning training for trainer Shuji Kitahashi. The 6-year-old son of Green Dancer, out of the Monteverdi mare Warranty Applied, was fifth in last year's running of the Hong Kong Cup.