The Irish Times

Free Eagle all set for a Sha Tin swansong

- BRIAN O’CONNOR

Pat Smullen is hoping Free Eagle can add Hong Kong to his Group 1 list as he takes on some of the world’s best in tomorrow morning’s Internatio­nal Carnival at Sha Tin.

The ¤2.3 million Longines Cup (off at 8.30am Irish time) is the climax to a hugely prestigiou­s card containing four top-flight races and which also sees Aidan O’Brien try to break his Hong Kong duck with Highland Reel in the Vase (6am), while Eddie Lynam’s stalwart, Sole Power has a fourth try at landing the Sprint (6.40am)

A victory for Free Eagle would put a Group 1 seal on a vintage 2015 for Smullen and give the Dermot Weld trained colt a perfect swansong to his racing career on-route to the Irish National Stud.

Smullen also rides Sir Micheal Stoute’s Cannock Chase against Highland Reel and the defending French champion Flintshire in the Vase.

The local star Designs On Rome ridden by Hong Kong’s Brazilian champion Joao Moreira, also defends his crown in the 10 furlong feature, which sees last year’s runner-up and third, Military Attack and Criterion, renew rivalry.

Global names

Free Eagle is the new ingredient in a contest which sees Ryan Moore on the Japanese hope Nuovo Record and global names Christophe Soumillon, Yutaka Take and Damien Oliver line up against the Irish hope.

Bookmakers have kept Free Eagle favourite, and Fiona Craig, spokespers­on for Moyglare Stud, reports the colt has settled in well at Sha Tin.

“It’s a bit ironic that the horse who could be his biggest threat, Designs On Rome, is a horse we bred and sold as a yearling at Goffs for ¤10,000,” Craig said.

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