How to bet the Hong Kong Vase

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 11th, 2020

If you need an example of how varying race distances can affect the form of individual horses, just check out the Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin Racecourse.

One of four Group 1 events comprising Sunday’s Hong Kong International Races, the Hong Kong Vase takes place over 2,400 meters, a distance most suitable for #1 Exultant. The reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year boasts a 6-4-1-1 record over this trip, including Group 1 victories in the 2018 Hong Kong Vase and the last two editions of the Champions & Chater Cup (G1).

Exultant has also been effective over shorter distances, winning multiple Group 1 races over 2,000 meters, but he typically ups his game when stretching out over 2,400 meters. With this in mind, we can forgive Exultant’s recent runner-up efforts in the 1,800-meter Sa Sa Ladies Purse (G3) and 2,000-meter Jockey Club Cup (G2), considering he was carrying top weight on both occasions while traversing distances shorter than his best.

So is Exultant a lock to win the Hong Kong Vase? Not necessarily. Although he looms as an obvious choice among the locals, the Irish raider #7 Mogul figures to put up a fierce fight. Conditioned by Aidan O’Brien, Mogul showed serious talent when rallying to win the 2,400-meter Grand Prix de Paris (G1) at the end of summer, sprinting home 2 1/2 lengths clear of future Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) runner-up In Swoop.

Mogul subsequently traveled to the U.S. for a start in the 2,400-meter Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), where he rallied belatedly to finish fifth by just three lengths. He’ll face easier competition in the Hong Kong Vase and looms as a dangerous threat with internationally acclaimed rider Ryan Moore in the saddle.

Rather than attempt to split Exultant and Mogul, let’s box them in the top two slots of a trifecta. For third place, we’ll add #2 Chefano and #4 Columbus County. Chefano’s recent form is uninspiring, but he performs best over 2,400 meters, as evidenced by his runner-up effort behind Exultant in the 2020 Champions & Chater Cup.

Columbus County also boasts a solid form line against the local favorite, having rallied to finish third in the Jockey Club Cup last month. A repeat can secure Columbus County a top-three finish.

$7.80 trifecta: 1,7 with 1,7 with 2,4 ($31.20)

Good luck!