11/24/2010 12:43PM

Winchester to be sole U.S. starter on big day in Hong Kong


Winchester will be the only American-trained horse competing on Hong Kong International Race Day at Sha Tin on Dec. 12. The Christophe Clement-trained winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Manhattan Handicap, Winchester has been selected by the Hong Kong Jockey Club to run in the 1 1/2-mile, $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase, in which he will run into the Melbourne Cup winner, Americain. Fourth most recently in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Winchester, a 5-year-old son of Theatrical owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Firestone, is scheduled to depart for Hong Kong on Dec. 6.

Three other races on the card have attracted numerous big names from around the world. The $1.8 million Hong Kong Sprint at six furlongs will be a battle for world sprint supremacy, as it will feature Sacred Kingdom, a two-time winner of the race, as well as Rocket Man and One World, the pair who dead-heated in the Jockey Club Sprint at Sha Tin on Sunday. Also selected are the KrisFlyer International Sprint winner, Green Birdie, and Japan’s Sprinter Stakes winner, Ultra Fantasy.

Vision d’Etat will defend his title in the 1 1/4-mile, $2.5 million Hong Kong Cup. A 5-year-old trained by Eric Libaud, he was most recently second to Twice Over in the Champion Stakes. He will be challenged by the locally-trained Jockey Club Cup winner, Irian, England’s Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup winner, Snow Fairy, as well as two dangerous French fillies in four-time Group 1 winner Stacelita and E.P. Taylor winner Reggane.

In the $2 million Hong Kong Mile, champion Hong Kong miler Able One will face a stern challenge from England’s three-time Group 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Mile fourth Paco Boy, Japan’s record-setting Mile Championship winner A Shin Forward, and France’s two-time Sun Chariot Stakes winner Sahpresa, who was fourth in the Mile Championship.