Highland Reel set for final fling in Hong Kong
7 Dec 2017
Aidan O'Brien-trained Series star will have his final race this weekend
Highland Reel exercises at at Sha Tin ahead of his final race. Picture: Racingfotos.com
The curtain will come down on the remarkable career of Highland Reel when he runs in the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin (6am) on Sunday.
Aidan O’Brien’s popular globetrotter will be retired to stud after running in the race for the third time, having won it two years ago and been second 12 months ago. His covering fee for next season has already been set at 17,500 euros.
Highland Reel’s decorated career has featured three wins in the QIPCO British Champions Series. Last year he won the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, while this campaign he has won the Investec Coronation Cup and Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
He has won his connections £6.4 million in prize money – a record for a horse trained in Europe.
“Highland Reel came out of his run at the Breeders’ Cup [when third] well,” O’Brien said. “He’s a great traveller and all has gone well with him on the trip to Hong Kong.
“This is his final race before he goes to stud, and I know that Davy [Bergin, his work rider] is very happy with him. He’s been a great horse to be around, and he’ll be hard to replace.”
His opponents will include Max Dynamite, lightly raced since making his mark on the Champions Series with victory in the 2015 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York.
Roly Poly, a stablemate of Highland Reel who also won two races Champions Series races this year, runs in the Longines Hong Kong Mile (7.50am) when her rivals will include Lightning Spear and Lancaster Bomber.
Deauville, Poet’s Word and Blond Me – all placed in Series races – will line up in the Longines Hong Kong Cup (8.30am).
“She’s very fit so not much is needed this week,” Andrew Balding said of Qatar Nassau Stakes runner-up Blond Me. “She’s seems to love travelling and has taken this whole experience in her stride.”