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Helios Express heads 147th BMW Hong Kong Derby selected runners

March 16, 2024 at 2:53:15 AM

Helios Express will aim to join Rapper Dragon and Golden Sixty with a HK$52 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series clean-sweep as one of 14 selected runners for the HK$26 million 147th BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 24 March.

Helios Express will aim to join Rapper Dragon and Golden Sixty with a HK$52 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series clean-sweep as one of 14 selected runners for the HK$26 million 147th BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 24 March.

The brilliant galloper has so far dominated the first two legs of the three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series, winning the HK$13 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and HK$13 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), under jockey Hugh Bowman for trainer John Size.

The best of this season’s Classic generation will vie for record HK$26 million in the BMW Hong Kong Derby, up from HK$24 million last year.

First contested in 1873, the BMW Hong Kong Derby is restricted to four-year-old runners, while past winners of Hong Kong’s most coveted crown this century include Vengeance Of Rain (2005), Viva Pataca (2006), Ambitious Dragon (2011), Designs On Rome (2014), Werther (2016), Rapper Dragon (2017), Golden Sixty (2020), Romantic Warrior (2022) and Voyage Bubble (2023).

The top-rated runner is the Pierre Ng-trained Galaxy Patch, who appears for the first time in the Four-Year-Old Classic Series after dominating sprint races and last start placing at Group 1 level behind California Spangle in the HK$13 million G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m).

The 103-rater steps beyond 1400m for the first time in the BMW Hong Kong Derby with connections of the rising talent paying a HK$260,000 late entry fee to run, adding further intrigue to the city’s famed race, which owners, trainers and jockeys alike desire success in.

Massive Sovereign recorded an astonishing debut win over the BMW Hong Kong Derby distance, and he makes his second Hong Kong start in the race for trainer Dennis Yip. The No Nay Never gelding won twice under the care of Aidan O’Brien in Ireland before import.

Size’s entry also features Ensued, a three-time winner who placed third in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, as well as Simple Hedge. Size has won the BMW Hong Kong Derby three times with Fay Fay (2012), Luger (2015) and Ping Hai Star (2018).

Danny Shum tasted success with the only Hong Kong International Sale graduate to win the BMW Hong Kong Derby in 2022, Romantic Warrior, and he is two-pronged with Hong Kong Classic Mile runner-up Helene Feeling and Chill Chibi, a four-time winner at Happy Valley.

Francis Lui won the race with Golden Sixty in 2020 and he saddles two runners, Chancheng Glory and Speed Dragon. The former attempted to make all in the Hong Kong Classic Cup before being run down late by Helios Express.

The championship-leading Ng also has one-time Hong Kong winner Ka Ying Generation, while legendary figure Tony Cruz, victorious with Lucky Owners (2004) and Helene Mascot (2008), has a pair of entrants in Beauty Crescent and California Voce.

Cruz won the race as a jockey aboard Co-Tack (1983), Tea For Two II (1987), Clear City (1988) and Makarpura Star (1995).

Mr Andrew Harding, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing, said: “The BMW Hong Kong Derby is one of the most prestigious races on the calendar – a race that every owner aspires to have a runner in, or better still, win.

“The race’s honour roll speaks for itself as we have seen in recent years with the progression of Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior and Voyage Bubble as winners of the BMW Hong Kong Derby to Group 1 champions, underlining the quality of the race known for once-in-a-lifetime glory.

“The 2024 edition is shaping as yet another remarkable edition with a host of incredible talents sourced from around the world to race for glory with owners and fans alike are looking forward to the contest with eager anticipation.”

Frankie Lor scored a first BMW Hong Kong Derby triumph in 2019 with Furore and is represented by Unbelievable this year, while David Hayes will also chase a second win in the 10-furlong test with Star Mac after crack filly Elegant Fashion prevailed for him in 2003.

Elegant Fashion was the first filly to land the Classic since Corvette in 1976.

The race, which is limited to 14 runners, has four reserves: Elliptical, Fallon, Bravehearts and Green N White.

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