The past two winners of the $2.5 million Hong Kong Vase (G1), defending champ Mogul and 2019 titleholder Glory Vase, will square off in Sunday’s renewal at Sha Tin. The about 1 1/2-mile affair is the first of four marquee events on the Hong Kong International Races program.
Hong Kong Vase (G1) – Race 4 (1 a.m. ET)
Mogul is trying to emulate Luso (1996-97) and Doctor Dino (2007-08) as a repeat winner, but the Aidan O’Brien colt hasn’t scored since last December. Indeed, unlike 2020, when he arrived as the reigning Grand Prix de Paris (G1) hero and creditable fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Mogul hasn’t even raced for four months. He was entered in the Breeders’ Cup, only to remain on the also-eligible list.
His forgettable 2021 began with a seventh in the Mar. 27 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). Next came a third in the May 2 Prix Ganay (G1), over an inadequate trip of about 1 5/16 miles. But the June 4 Coronation Cup (G1) at a rain-sodden Epsom turned into a debacle as Mogul wound up a tailed-off last of six behind Pyledriver. The Galileo colt couldn’t find suitable ground to rebound, eventually taking a stab at the Aug. 8 Prix de Reux (G3) at Deauville and checking in sixth.
Mogul will get his preferred going in the Vase. Historically he’s needed to race himself fit, however, and the layoff remains a concern. Indeed, old foe Pyledriver took advantage of Mogul’s ring-rustiness when first beating him in the 2020 King Edward VII (G2).
Glory Vase has a better case to regain his crown, and join Highland Reel as a two-time winner in non-consecutive years. A dynamic 3 1/2-length conqueror here in 2019, the son of Deep Impact was limited to three starts at home in 2020, culminating in a fifth to the great Almond Eye and Contrail in last fall’s Japan Cup (G1). His 2021 campaign has been geared toward Hong Kong. Runner-up to future Breeders’ Cup star Loves Only You in the Apr. 25 QEII Cup (G1) at a trip short of his best, Glory Vase warmed up with a third in the Sept. 26 Sankei Sho All Comers (G2) at Nakayama. Sankei Sho fifth Stay Foolish has a lot to find on overall form, although he did manage to place to Loves Only You back in the Feb. 14 Kyoto Kinen (G2).
The aforementioned Pyledriver, who also defeated Mogul in the 2020 Great Voltigeur (G2) at York, had this summer’s major prizes in his grasp after his Coronation Cup triumph. Unfortunately, the Harbour Watch colt was sidelined through the heart of the European season. Co-trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick got him ready in time for Hong Kong, even making a winning tune-up in Lingfield’s Nov. 13 Churchill S.
Multiple Group 2-winning filly Ebaiyra fits not only on the Vase’s historical parameters, as a European (especially French) shipper, but also on form. The Aga Khan homebred was second to Broome, the future Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up, in the July 4 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1). Although she regressed when sixth in the Aug. 22 Prix Jean Romanet (G1), retiring trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre believes that Ebaiyra is back on song as she tries to send him off on a high note.
The locals have often found it difficult to defend their home turf in this race, and that pattern figures to hold on Sunday. Columbus County, third in the 2020 Vase and runner-up in the May 23 Champions & Chater Cup (G1), exits a useful fourth in the Nov. 21 Jockey Club Cup (G2) to Reliable Team, who committed grand larceny. Reliable Team’s only prior try at this distance was a near-miss third to Butterfield in the May 2 Queen Mother Memorial Cup (G3). Butterfield, a multiple Brazilian Group 1 winner when known as Halston, was a prepping third in the Nov. 28 Chevalier Cup H. over a metric mile.