HONG KONG RACING
EXPERT RATINGS, TIPS & ANALYSIS
The Hong Kong Mile and Hong Kong Derby is on the table for the Siu family’s Australian Group 1 winner.
Martin Siu has the Hong Kong Mile in mind should Converge progress through the AU$10 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill on October 29, and, beyond that, the Hong Kong Derby is ripe for consideration.
The G1 Randwick Guineas winner carries the red and black silks of the Siu family’s Australian interest, Evergreen Rich Pty Ltd, having been bought in utero and foaled at the group’s Evergreen Stud Farm in the Hunter Valley.
“If we get an invitation, I think that would be very possible,” Siu told the Report when asked about the Hong Kong Mile as a post-Golden Eagle target.
Despite Siu’s respectfully diplomatic response, an invitation to the Hong Kong Mile is practically guaranteed to drop his way should the family – one of Hong Kong racing’s most prominent – opt to proceed down that rare route. The gelding is already a two-time Group 1 winner, which gives him the kind of profile the Hong Kong Jockey Club is always eager to attract.
Siu also revealed that the Hong Kong Derby in March is in connections’ thoughts and ‘would be possible’ if the son of Frankel progresses as hoped through his four-year-old campaign.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Converge last raced in April when down the field in the Doncaster Mile and had his first barrier trial of this campaign at Randwick on August 2. But, while Siu confirmed the Golden Eagle – a set-weights contest for four-year-olds – remains the major spring aim, he said the horse’s first-up race has not yet been locked in.
“He’s just been having an easy time until now and Adrian will decide when he’s ready for his first run,” Siu said.
Should Converge proceed along the route under consideration, he could provide a fascinating test case as to the suitability of the 1500-metre Golden Eagle – now in its fourth year – as a Hong Kong International Races lead-up, and as a source of prospective Derby candidates.
No horse to date has attempted to take the Golden Eagle path into the Hong Kong Mile: Bon Ho’s Classique Legend did not proceed to Sha Tin after a below par Golden Eagle attempt in 2019 but did transfer to Hong Kong to contest the 2020 Hong Kong Sprint after winning The Everest at Randwick two months prior: the grey arrived early for his Hong Kong assignment, failed to acclimatise and was a disappointing 11th of 14.
The Sius can look to Lucky Owners in 2003-04 as a Hong Kong Mile winner that went on to succeed in the exclusive-to-four-year-olds Hong Kong Derby: the usual pathway is a Hong Kong Derby campaign progressing to Hong Kong’s Group 1 ‘International Races’ the following December, rather than the other way around.
But Lucky Owners, as a PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin), was fully acclimatised to the Hong Kong system, having won six of 10 starts at Sha Tin going into the Hong Kong Mile. As a PP (Private Purchase) proven overseas, Converge would be covering similar ground to Johan Cruyff in the late 1990s when the former Coolmore-owned import placed 12th in the Hong Kong Cup then went on to win the Hong Kong Derby three months later.
Even then, Johan Cruyff did not race between an Irish Derby fourth in the July of 1997 and his Hong Kong debut that November, one of two Sha Tin lead-up races into the December feature.
Waterhouse and Bott have guided Converge to top-flight wins in the JJ Atkins Stakes and the Randwick Guineas, as well as Group 1 placed finishes in the Champagne Stakes and Rosehill Guineas. But if a Hong Kong Derby route is to be plotted, the bay would have to join a Hong Kong stable in order to qualify for a berth in the coveted race.
Members of the Siu family – patriarch Siu Pak-kwan and his children Edmond, Connie and Martin, as well as Martin’s wife, Jocelyn – have enjoyed major successes in Hong Kong, notably Time Warp’s Hong Kong Cup win in Martin’s variation on the red and black silks and Jocelyn’s three-time G1 winner Waikuku, but they have not won the coveted Hong Kong Derby despite considerable investment to achieve that unfulfilled end.
At a time when horses with a suitable profile are particularly difficult for Hong Kong owners to acquire out of the richly-endowed Australian arena, Siu has landed upon what he described as a ‘dream’ situation.
“We bought the mare, Conversely, at the Magic Millions Broodmare Sale at the Gold Coast, so we got her through my racing manager Tony Bott. I asked him to go and have a bid on her, and he got the horse,” Siu said.
Bott sealed the daughter of Shamardal privately – pregnant with Converge – after she failed to reach her AU$300,000 reserve and was passed in for AU$280,000.
“Because Converge was a little bit too small, we were worried about him carrying the heavy weights in handicaps in Hong Kong so we decided for him to stay in Australia to race,” Siu noted.
Had Converge been owned by Australian interests, even as a gelding, it is unlikely in the current climate that he would have been sold to a Hong Kong party for two or even three million dollars, given that his Spring target, the Golden Eagle, carries a prize fund of AU$10 million. That is a huge purse when considered alongside the lucrative Hong Kong Mile and the Hong Kong Derby which are worth HK$30 million (AU$5.5 million) and HK$24 million (AU$4.4 million), respectively.
Whereas the Sius would ordinarily have their agents chasing just such a high-profile prospect as Converge in Europe and Australia, this time one has landed in their lap: picked up at source and raised as their own.
‘Exactly,” Siu said, “and hopefully the mare can produce another one, too.”
“She is going to be covered by Frankel. She slipped to him last year so this year we may try again.”
But that option was almost lost when Evergreen Stud offered Conversely for sale back at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Broodmare Sale. a year after they first purchased her.
Thankfully, for the Sius, fortune favoured them again. The mare – a daughter of Melhor Ainda, runner-up to Japan’s brilliant producer Cesario in the G1 American Oaks – returned not sold at AU$40,000, a figure AU$10,000 below her reserve price.
With notions of luck and fortune being prevalent narratives in Hong Kong racing, by that token, perhaps Converge is destined to go down the Hong Kong route and carry the red and black silks to a major victory at Sha Tin: the option is at least being considered.
EXPERT RATINGS, TIPS & ANALYSIS