HONG KONG – DECEMBER 08: Douglas Whyte riding Akeed Mofeed winning Race 8, The Longines Hong Kong Cup during Hong Kong International Racing at Sha Tin racecourse on December 8, 2013 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)
Is the end in sight for Tapeta? It looks so. We may have reached the finish line on this particular surface. The failure of the world’s richest race to attract the world’s top performers over the last four years added to some shock results by outsiders looks like putting a nail in the coffin of this particular synthetic. The world’s richest race has not produced the world’s best performances. Indeed compared to Santa Anita’s Big Cap at the beginning of the month this one looks a tame little beast. No Game On Dude, no Mucho Macho Man, no Will Take Charge. The three top 10F horses in America are all dirt.
Of the 16 that contest here only Ron The Greek comes with an American dirt pedigree. He was a winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational last September where he had a comfortable 6 3/4 L over Palace Malice at Belmont Park. He has since transferred to Saudi Arabia where his prep was a pipe opener in a three runner race in Riyadh in February.
From the other side of the world comes Akeed Mofeed. He has come a long way since his Beresford run at the Curragh in September 2011. Then trained by John Oxx he had prior to the run shown a potential that rivalled that of the 2008 winner Sea The Stars. The loss was put down to unsuitable slow ground and as a two year old he wasn’t asked for a further effort. The miserable summer of 2012 left John with no option but to reintroduce him in the Irish Derby where bottomless ground left him 18 L adrift of Camelot. One more run as a three year old in Listed company at Cork yielded a 5 L win and a sale at reputedly $2m out east. Put in the care of Richard Gibson he was specifically purchased for the Hong Kong Derby (run on St Patrick’s Day) a race open to four year olds and up. He duly obliged and followed that up in December winning the Hong Kong Cup thus booking his place in this the world richest race. The potential seen on those Currabeg gallops unlocked.
The other Hong Kong horse is Military Attack. The ex John Hills inmate is now trained by John Moore and in the prep for this at Sha Tin in February he beat Akeed Mofeed 5 1/4 L reversing the form of the December race. That was on top of the wins in the QE11 Cup at home and the Singapore Cup in Kranji last spring. You can see why he is fancied.
And what of the European challenge?
Led by the Derby winner Ruler Of The World who will race in the colours of Al Shaquab after an intriguing deal being struck earlier in the week with the Coolmore outfit. He hasn’t won since Epsom in four visits to the track. A flat Irish Derby and a good Prix Neil was followed by an inconclusive Arc and a staying on third in the Champion Stakes. His class may tell this year.
The very likeable and underrated Red Cadeaux ran a cracker here last year to be second to Animal Kingdom doing the same in the Melbourne Cup again. Mukhadram just got home in the Sky Bet York Stakes from Grandeur before failing in the Champion Stakes while Hillstar hasn’t come out of the pack since beating Battle Of Morengo at Ascot last year going down in the King George, The International and the Champion Stakes also. Side Glance did go down under to bag a G1 in the Mackinnon Stakes on Melbourne Cup day but couldn’t repeat in Hong Kong and hardly inspired confidence when running on at the same pace in R3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge on super Saturday three weeks ago.
Prince Bishop won that 1 1/4 L from Sanshaawes in a smooth if not brilliant performance having previously beaten the more fancied African Story in R2 of the Challenge.
Of the Japanese pair Belshazzar looks to have the edge over Hokko Tarumae based on Japan Cup Dirt where the former beat the latter who was favourite.
All in all the Hong Kong form looks to be the benchmark here.
Untested on Tapeta as many here are Akeed Mofeed does look to have benefitted from a good draw in stall 4. When he comes with a turn of foot and some raw acceleration I’m sure John Oxx will look on saying he saw that early one morning on those Curragh gallops.
Recommendation : Akeed Mofeed 10/1 win