Reel ready for Hong Kong Vase
Aidan O'Brien is happy with his globetrotting superstar Highland Reel ahead of the Hong Kong Vase on Sunday morning.
Highland Reel: Bidding to win the Hong Kong Vase again
The four-year-old is bidding to retain his title in the HK$16.5 million LONGINES Hong Kong Vase, while stablemate Cougar Mountain contests the HK$23 million LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
Highland Reel has been one of the stable's flag bearers in 2016 with Group One wins in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, not to mention that highly creditable second in the Arc.
On Sunday this remarkable traveller will be making his 20th career start and his 15th outside his native Ireland. His is an odyssey that has seen him run in England, France, the USA, Australia, Dubai and now Hong Kong for a third time. In flying distance he has circled the globe three times.
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Looking ahead to the HKIR on Sunday, O'Brien said of the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase favourite: "Highland Reel is a very good colt, we know that. He has tactical speed, he stays, and has everything you could want really. He's been a good traveller from early on in his career, he relaxes, he's adaptable, he doesn't overthink situations.
"Cougar Mountain goes in the Mile, and we were pleased enough with his last run (Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita). He was drawn wide, was checked in his run, was running on at the finish, and not beaten that far. He's got the potential to win a Group 1 race we feel. He's a good traveller, and he's a fast ground horse – we'll see how he goes on the day."
This 2016 campaign has seen Ballydoyle collect a remarkable 22 Group/Grade 1 victories, and record an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – thanks to Found, Highland Reel and Order Of St George.
Speaking from Ballydoyle on Tuesday, O'Brien said: "Yes, we have had a good year, it's true. It is down to a lot of hard work by a lot of people. We have been very lucky this season in that we have had some very good horses that have progressed throughout the year, and that has obviously been important in the year overall."
O'Brien, with his son Donnacha, who has the ride on Cougar Mountain on Sunday, is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong on Saturday, happy to be on hand for the final act of the drama of his truly remarkable season.
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