Eryiza on her way in after winning the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown in August
Hong Kong’s International day takes place on Sunday with four Group 1’s featuring across the Sha Tin card.
There’s a strong Irish presence in the first, The Hong Kong Vase over 12f. Rostropovich, Eryiza and Latrobe will break from the gate with the green white and orange tricolour tucked underneath the saddlecloth.
Jockey bookings suggest that it will be waived only should Aidan O’Brien’s Rostropovich win with Wayne Lordan in the plate as Joseph O’Brien has gone with a new partner for Latrobe, Australian James McDonald.
Dermot Weld has teamed Eryiza with Christophe-Patrice Lemaire who’ll be reunited with the silks of the Aga Khan, a retainer he held in his native France in 2015 before going to ride in Japan full-time.
Rostropovich after winning The Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown in September
Latrobe, just touched off in the Mackinnon Stakes last time out on the final day of the Melbourne Spring Carnival is arguably the form horse of the three.
He won the Irish Derby over 12f a ½L from Rostropvich in the summer, the initial reaction, a media view, was that he was a Leger horse in the making. Joseph slept on it and decided he was worth a crack at the International at York over 10f, he didn’t see him just as a stayer but rather a top class middle distance animal. It didn’t work out on the Knavesmire where he got a little unbalanced and tapped for toe turning round the bend and when his chance was gone he was eased down to finish second last.
He did step up to the 14f trip for the Irish Leger running on well when second to his father’s horse Flag Of Honour and it must have been tempting to try to follow-up Rekindling’s Melbourne Cup success of the previous year. Instead Joseph opted for the Mackinnon Stakes over 10f. He travelled beautifully in behind but had to come wide to make his challenge, he nearly got up but ran out of track on a trip shorter than ideal. This step back up to a mile and a half here will suit.
Rostropovich was given a stiff task after the Irish Derby when sent to Ascot for the summer showpiece, The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Over the same trip as the Irish Derby he led off a strong pace fading in the last quarter to be beaten 13½L. He was dropped in class over Irish Champions Weekend for a cosy win the G3 Kilternan Stakes from stablemate Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Next up he was thrown back in at the deep end, sent down under to take on Winx in the Cox Plate, drawn widest of all he couldn’t get any cover and ended up in a battle too early for the lead. In the end the 10f trip proved too sharp, Ryan Moore easing him down in the final furlong with an eye on his next target the Melbourne Cup where he ran a cracker to finish fifth over a trip too far for him.
Dermot Weld is known to hatch the odd plan, two Melbourne Cups, a Belmont Stakes, throw in the Epsom Derby and you get the idea. His patience is well documented and Eziyra is another example of that. Her seasonal debut came in August at Leopardstown where she was given a hands and heels ride to come from the back to win the G3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown over 12f.
Two weeks later she was at York for the Yorkshire Oaks running third to Sea Of Class and Coronet, form which was given a significant boost by Sea Of Class’s brilliant run in the Arc. Like Rostropovich she was dropped in class and given a confidence booster with a win in the G2 Blandford Stakes over Irish Champions Weekend.
She then went to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf where under Frankie Dettori she broke from stall fourteen, the widest gate of all, far from ideal around an American tight turn inner track. Frankie insured she broke well shuffling her across into a good position, in the pack off the rail, the problem was they’d slowed to a crawl and she’d already been given her head and so was running far too free. On the face of it she didn’t do well managing a lowly sixth however the five in front of her were all G1 winners.
Latrobe is improving and well drawn in six, Rostropovich has preformed well over trips either inadequate or too far on his last two runs however drawn eleven isn’t ideal.
It is Eziyra who stands out the most with a good draw in gate eight. Hopefully the rain stays away, she’s a beautiful mover with a lovely action, a top of the ground filly. If she relaxes in the hands of Christophe-Patrice Lemaire she could make a bold show, the tricolour might be produced, blue white and red.
Recommendation: Eziyra 16/1 ew
The Pattern Racing World Championships 2018
You can follow the story of the G1 Pattern Race year by clicking on the links below. There you’ll find how the 299 G1’s already run this year have panned out in championship format.