World Class: Reel faces biggest threat from Silverwave

Highland Reel: the one to beat in the Hong Kong Vase

PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Silverwave biggest threat to Highland Reel in Vase By Sam Walker 12:00PM 7 DEC 2016

HIGHLAND REEL looks the best chance of a European winner at the valuable Hong Kong International meeting on Sunday.

Aidan O'Brien's colt is the class act in the Hong Kong Vase, having already bagged the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Turf this year, as well as finishing second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The four-year-old doesn't have the greatest strike-rate, with just two wins from eight starts this season, but he has proved very consistent in the highest-level races all over the world and if he runs to his mark again he should win.

He saw off Arc runner-up Flintshire to win the 2015 renewal of the Vase and he doesn't face any rivals of that calibre this time round.

The icing on the cake is that Ryan Moore, fresh from a couple of big wins in Japan and with a great record at Sha Tin, takes the ride.

The ten-year average RPR for a Vase winner stands at 119. Highland Reel has hit that standard on six of his eight starts this season – and you can overlook the other two runs as they came over an inadequate 1m2f.

So it looks like the bookies have it right. If he runs to his solid 119-124 standard over his ideal trip at a course where he has a perfect record he should win.

There is a small question mark over whether he can come from behind horses if required, as he has dictated the pace for all four of his top-level wins to date. But even in defeat he has consistently produced performances good enough to win this race, so we probably have to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Wave could take silver

If he does come unstuck the horses with the quality to pick up the pieces are also trained in Europe and Big Orange, who could take him on for the lead, is next best on RPRs with a mark of 119.

Michael Bell's five-year-old has shown plenty of stamina at home, but he's also shown the tactical speed to make his mark on the world stage by finishing fifth in the Melbourne Cup, second in the Dubai Gold Cup and third in Australia's Group 2 Zipping Classic last time out.

Silverwave sits just a pound behind Big Orange with an RPR of 118 for his Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud success in July. The French colt should be better suited to the speedy Sha Tin test than the Brit and he looks the best option to follow Highland Reel home and secure a one-two for Europe.

A Shin Hikari has questions to answer

The Vase is traditionally dominated by Europeans, but the other three International races tend to go to Team Asia, with trainers based in Japan or Hong Kong winning the last ten runnings of the Mile and the last five runnings of both the Cup and the Sprint.

This year Japan and Hong Kong horses are set to make up the bulk of the runners in the other three races and it would be a surprise if recent history isn't repeated.

Japan's A Shin Hikari tops the RPRs for the Cup, but he is on a bit of a retrieval mission after dismal efforts at Ascot and Tokyo.

At his best he is well capable of winning at the highest level, as he proved when taking the 2015 renewal of this race and when landing the Prix d'Ispahan by a wide margin in May, but the question remains: is he going to be anywhere near his best?

He finished eight and a half lengths behind Japanese Horse of the Year, Maurice, when twelfth in the Tenno Sho Autumn last time out and connections must be hoping the return to Sha Tin rekindles the sort of resurgence in form that on the face of things looks unlikely.

Maurice is set to reoppose on Sunday and he's a solid favourite. He has course form, having won the Hong Kong Mile last year and he proved his ability over this distance when winning the Tenno Sho last time. Both those wins earned him RPRs of 122, which would have been good enough to win the last six renewals of the Hong Kong Cup.

Logo the right type for Mile

The Hong Kong Mile doesn't look as strong as it has in recent years, with just one or two horses looking capable of getting close to the ten year average of 122.7.

Able Friend is a 128 performer at his best but he is returning from injury and may not be firing on all cylinders just yet. Japan's Logotype is a bit hit and miss but he beat Maurice in the Yasuda Kinen in June, posting an RPR of 119, and that level might just be enough to win the Mile this year.

The Hong Kong Sprint looks tight on RPRs and the result could turn on the luck of the draw. Lucky Bubbles is probably the top local sprinter at the moment and that could be enough if he gets the breaks.

TOP LIST


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Arrogate (US)Breeders' Cup Classic136D
2California Chrome (US)Breeders' Cup Classic135D
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130D
Winx (AUS)Cox Plate130T
5Almanzor (Fr)Champion Stakes129T
6A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d'Ispahan127T
7A.P. Indian (US)Forego Stakes126D
Limato (GB)Prix de la Foret126T
Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126T
10Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125T
Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125T
Mecca's Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125T

TURF


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Winx (AUS)Cox Plate130
2Almanzor (Fr)Champion Stakes129
3A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d'Ispahan127
4LimatoPrix de la Foret126
Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126
6Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125
Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125
Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125
Mecca's Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125
10Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
Found (Ire)Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe124
Galileo Gold (GB)St James's Palace Stakes124
Harzand (Ire)Derby124
Highland Reel (Ire)Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe124
Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
The Gurkha (Ire)Sussex Stakes124
Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124

DIRT


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Arrogate (US)Breeders' Cup Classic136
2California Chrome (US)Breeders' Cup Classic135
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130
4A.P. IndianForego Stakes126
5Beholder (US)Breeders' Cup Distaff124
Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby124
Songbird (US)Cotillion124
8Classic Empire (US)Breeders' Cup Juvenile123
Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap123
Drefong (US)Breeders' Cup Sprint123
Exaggerator (US)Haskell Invitational123

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