05/04/2017 2:42PM

Hong Kong: Rapper Dragon gets Group 1 test in Champions Mile

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Hong Kong Jockey Club
Rapper Dragon won the 4-year-old Triple Crown in Hong Kong earlier this year.

The Group 1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong on Sunday will provide a stern class test for the brilliant 4-year-old Rapper Dragon.

Earlier this year, Rapper Dragon swept the 4-year-old Triple Crown in Hong Kong – the Hong Kong Classic Mile, Hong Kong Classic Cup, and Hong Kong Derby – and followed with a win in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy at a mile on April 9.

The $2,056,211 Champions Mile will be the Group 1 debut in Hong Kong for Rapper Dragon, an Australian-bred gelding by Street Boss who has won 9 of 17 starts, all in Australia and Hong Kong.

The Champions Mile is the first of two Group 1 turf races on the Sha Tin program, followed by the $1,799,185 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at six furlongs. Betting is available on DRFBets.com.

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Thursday, Rapper Dragon had a slow six-furlong breeze of 1:20.10 under jockey Joao Moreira, the leading rider in Hong Kong. Moreira has ridden Rapper Dragon in his four wins this year.

“I’ve said it before, but I do think at the moment he’s the best in Hong Kong,” Moreira told Hong Kong publicity on Thursday. “There are only a few words I can say that do it justice. I wouldn’t want to be on any other horse.”

Owned by Albert Hung Chao Hong of Hong Kong and trained by John Moore, Rapper Dragon has won all four of his starts at a mile at Sha Tin and will be favored. In Australia, Rapper Dragon was second in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes in 2015.

In Sunday’s race, Rapper Dragon’s main rivals are Beauty Only and Helene Paragon.

Beauty Only won the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile last December, but is winless in three starts this year. Beauty Only was second to Rapper Dragon in the Chairman’s Trophy.

Helene Paragon has won two Group 1 races this year – the Stewards’ Cup at a mile in January and Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at seven furlongs in February – but has lost his two most recent starts, including a seventh in the Chairman’s Trophy.

There are two shippers from England in the Champions Mile – Stormy Antarctic, who was second in the listed Doncaster Mile on April 1, and Convey, who won twice on the all-weather surface at Lingfield Park this year.

The final field for Sunday’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize was unclear as of Thursday.

The Hong Kong veteran Aerovelocity was found to be lame after morning exercise, leaving his participation in doubt, according to a statement issued by Hong Kong officials. A 9-year-old, Aerovelocity won the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint last December.

The other 11 runners in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize are led by the first three finishers of the Group 2 Sprint Cup on April 9 – Mr Stunning, Peniaphobia, and Lucky Bubbles. Lucky Bubbles and Peniaphobia were second and third behind Aerovelocity in the Hong Kong Sprint last December.

Mr Stunning, who will be ridden by Moreira, has won 7 of 10 starts. A 4-year-old Australian-bred gelding by Exceed and Excel, Mr Stunning will have his Group 1 debut in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.

Peniaphobia, a threat from the front, has won 12 of 35 starts, including the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint in 2015.