x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Good Ba Ba on a hat trick

All the talk has been about whether Good Ba Ba can create history and win this for the third consecutive year at the Hong Kong International Races.

Youmzain, twice in the Prix de l'Arc Triomphe in the past three years, holds the key to the race. Mick Channon's star has the best form in the book and is ultra consistent, having raced his last 17 times in Group 1 company and never been out of the first five. The problem is that he's only won one of those races and so has to be opposed. Reigning Hong Kong Horse Of The Year Viva Pataca is respected, having won seven Group Ones at Sha Tin. But in his two runs this season he's lacked the old sparkle. Confirmed dual code stayer Kasbah Bliss is an interesting runner but may lack the required speed.. Instead the selection is Sir Michael Stoute's Spanish Moon, who has looked fantastic in the mornings at the track. He has form in some major international mile-and-a half races of 2009 and is taken to go one better here. Selections: 1./ Spanish Moon 2./ Youmzain 3./ Kasbah Bliss

Hong Kong horses have farmed this in recent years, winning the last seven renewals, but face a big challenge from the notoriously strong Australian speedballs. Scenic Blast is the glamour horse from Down Under and, if he wins this takes a US$1 million (Dh3.6m) bonus for winning three legs of the Global Sprint Challenge. His problem may lie in the toll of all the travel he has undertaken this year. All Silent comes with bullet proof claims having triumphed in two verystrong sprints at Flemington but he has been handed a stall 14 draw, which works well for a drop-out horse that finishes fast and late. A previous winner of this race, Sacred Kingdom loves the track and will surely go close while the Americans California Flag and Cannonball have to prove that they can handle the right turn. Prix de l'Abbaye winner Total Gallery is drawn well and jockey Johnny Murtagh has been bullish about his chances. 1./ All Silent 2./ Sacred Kingdom 3./ Total Gallery

All the talk in Hong Kong has been about whether Good Ba Ba can create history and win this for the third consecutive year. Rated the world's best miler in 2008, he set a course record in winning this last time out and has been laid out specifically for the race and with Egyptian Ra in the field the tempo should be fast and true. His only real contender seems to be Happy Zero. Jockey Darren Beadman was very sweet on the gelding, saying that he will relish the extra distance having previously never been further than 1400m. A look at the strong way Happy Zero finishes his races - he doesn't look like stopping - would seem to confirm that. Of the rest Australia's Racing To Win and Pressing are capable on past form and Godolphin's Alexandros is a much underated animal who, on his narrow Lockinge second, can make an impression. 1./ Good Ba Ba 2./ Happy Zero 3./ Alexandros

If the admirable Eagle Mountain was in the same form as last year then he'd be a hot favourite but there is no getting away from the fact that this race seems to have come just too soon for him after elevens months away from the track. As such the favourite will be Hong Kong Derby winner Collection whose best performances have come oat Sha Tin, but this is his acid test to show he can beat the best international horses. In contrast Presvis has excellent international form, coming second in Dubai and Singapore and winning April's QEII Cup over course and distance. Luca Cumani's inmate finishes like a train and will appreciate the small field and fair nature of the when he makes his charge. Prince of Wales's Stakes winner Vision D'Etat is high-class and it's hard to see him being out of the places while the interesting booking of Frankie Dettori on outsider Mr Medici could see him run a big race. 1./ Presvis 2./ Vision D'Etat 3./ Mr Medici