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Homeracing

Hanson: Spot Plays for the 2021 Hong Kong International Races (HKIR)

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

December 11th, 2021

The 10-race HKIR begins Saturday night at 11 p.m. ET.

The 2021 Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) at Sha Tin this weekend features four Group 1 stakes, but perhaps not too many pari-mutuel bombs if the form on paper pans out.

The local star of the show is Golden Sixty, who aims to defend his title in the third Group 1 on the card, the Hong Kong Mile. A death-and-taxes type with 18 wins from 19 starts, he's hard to oppose with great confidence.

RELATED: Hong Kong International Raceday: Trends for 2021

Instead, we'll look at the other highlights on the program for our recommended plays.

Hong Kong Vase (G1) -- Race 4 (1 a.m. ET Sunday)

#2 GLORY VASE (3-1), who won this race in 2019 but skipped last year's HKIR in favor of a tilt at the Japan Cup (G1), is a six-year-old who's raced sporadically throughout his career. However, whenever he shows up, he tends to run.

Beaten less than a length by the mare Loves Only You in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) at Sha Tin in April, Glory Vase made his only appearance since in an 11-furlong Group 2 at Nakayama in late September. Third that day and typically stronger second off the layoff, he can re-claim this title here.

Hong Kong Sprint (G1) -- Race 5 (1:40 a.m. ET Sunday)

This race has never been won by a three-year-old, but #2 PIXIE KNIGHT (7-2) has solid claims on potentially being the first. The Japanese invader obviously has tremendous upside, given his age, and enters off a two-length win in the Sprinters S. (G1) over the right-handed Nakayama course.

In looks and movement, Pixie Knight is reminiscent of his sire, Maurice, a two-time winner at this fixture whose 2016 Hong Kong Cup victory is still the most dazzling display by a Thoroughbred that our eyes have had an opportunity to witness.

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Pixie Knight trains for Hong Kong International Races (Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Hong Kong Cup (G1) -- Race 8 (3:30 a.m. ET Sunday)

Although connections are voicing concerns the ground might come up too firm, English invader #8 DUBAI HONOR (5-1) is getting good at the right time for trainer William Haggas.

A dual Group 2 winner in France prior to the Oct. 16 Champion S. (G1) at Ascot, the gelding outran all save fellow three-year-old Sealiway in that 10-furlong test, with such standouts as Mishriff and Adayar behind him. Granted, that race came at the end of a long season for the aforementioned rivals and on ground that might not have been suitable for either, but that piece of form still remains intriguing.

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Dubai Honour trains for Hong Kong International Races (Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club)

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