The 2014 Hong Kong International Sprint field has been announced and Australian sprinter Buffering is set to face 13 rivals in the Group 1 event at Sha Tin on December 14.
The Hong Kong International Sprint has been on the agenda for Buffering for a number of years, but the Mossman gelding is set to receive his first taste of international racing after he took out the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) and performed well in both the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) and Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) during his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
Buffering will be the sole Australian representative in the Hong Kong International Sprint, but a couple of horses with previous racing experience in Australia in the form of Gordon Lord Byron and Lucky Nine are also set to contest the Group 1 event.
Gordon Lord Byron made his Australian racing debut with a fast-finishing win in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 29 before he finished behind Buffering in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
The Byron gelding performed well in the Group 1 Sprint Cup (1207m) at Haydock Park on September 6 and the Group 1 Prix De La Foret (1400m) at Longchamp on October 5 before he returned to winning form with a win in the Group 2 British Champions Sprint Stakes (1207m) at Ascot on October 18.
Lucky Nine was narrowly denied a maiden Group 1 victory in Australia when he was beaten by a nose by Buffering in the Manikato Stakes (1200m) last year and he was slightly disappointing when sixth in the VRC Sprint Classic, but has taken out both the Group 1 The Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) and Group 1 Singapore International Sprint (1200m) this preparation.
The key form guide for the Hong Kong International Sprint will be the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) that was held at Sha Tin on Saturday and winner Peniaphobia as well as Singapore-based star Spalato, the unlucky Aerovelocity, runner-up Smart Volatility, John Moore-trained Sterling City, Flagship Shin and Golden Harvest will be backing up from the Group 2 sprint.
Edward Lynam-trained Sole Power will return to Hong Kong for a third tilt at the race after finishing ninth behind Lucky Nine in 2011 and second behind equine superstar Lord Kanaloa in last year’s race.
Sole Power took out both the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m) and Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes (1005m) in England earlier this year, but failed to fire at his last start in the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye (1000m) at Longchamp on October 5.
The Hong Kong International Sprint field is rounded out by the Japanese trio of Little Gerda, Snow Dragon and Straight Girl.