Sanity has prevailed with European import Flaming Rabbit after connections resisted the lure of next weekend’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) with a galloper who hasn’t raced since running over a mile in France last September.
The absence of the Douglas Whyte-trained Flaming Rabbit from the city’s most prestigious race means the David Hayes-trained Bon’s A Pearla sneaks into the final field, which was confirmed at Sha Tin on Thursday morning.
There were no surprises among the 14 gallopers afforded a start in a field headlined by the John Size-trained Beauty Eternal, who is $2.25 in overseas fixed-odds markets, and last month’s Classic Cup winner Super Sunny Sing, who is second favourite.
Classic Cup 13th placegetter Keefy is the highest-rated Derby runner on 99, while January’s Classic Mile winner Voyage Bubble will attempt the 2,000m after fading into sixth in the Classic Cup.
The top seven from the Classic Cup are all in the Derby field, with Sword Point, Galaxy Witness, Tuchel, Flagship Warrior and Bon’s A Pearla joining Super Sunny Sing and Voyage Bubble.
Beautyverse, Sweet Encounter and Encountered push on to the city’s most prestigious race despite ordinary Classic Cup efforts, while Atullibigeal and Straight Arron join Beauty Eternal in entering the Classic Series for the first time ahead of the HK$24 million finale.
A raft of superstar jockeys will jet in for the March 19 showpiece, with James McDonald sticking with Beautyverse and Blake Shinn (Straight Arron), Ryan Moore (Tuchel) and Jamie Kah (Galaxy Witness) all picking up new four-year-old series rides.
The reserves for the Derby are Sinba, La City Blanche, Woodfire Bro and Gallant Waking.
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