Japanese horses of the calibre of Epiphaneia don't turn up in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (2,000m) every year and that makes the four-year-old the horse to beat in the $14 million Group One showpiece at Sha Tin today, reports Racing Post HK.

His trainer Katsuhiko Sumii won the Hong Kong Mile with Hat Trick, his first runner in Hong Kong back in 2005, and has returned only twice since, with an outsider in the Hong Kong Cup, and with 2012 QE II winner Rulership.

Sumii has forged a tremendous record of taking the world's biggest races on these hit and run international visits, including the Dubai World Cup and Melbourne Cup, and has brought a particularly high quality horse in Epiphaneia (Yuichi Fukunaga).

Beaten at only four of his nine starts, Epiphaneia was a certainty beaten in two of those, including the Japanese 2000 Guineas last year.

He was not a certainty beaten in his latest defeat when odds-on favourite at Hanshin and third behind the horse who also beat him in the Japanese Derby last May, Kizuna, but not too much should be read into that.

Coming off a lay-off of five and a half months, Epiphaneia ran out of fitness, will be much better for that and it is worth bearing in mind that few of the Japanese international winners at Sha Tin have ever arrived with a last-start win.

One question mark on Epiphaneia is how he maps from the six gate in a remarkably-configured draw which almost looks designed to fall into line with the preferences of the horses. The on-pace horses have gates one, two, three and four while the outside four barriers contain horses which will likely drop back in the early stages. That leaves Designs On Rome in five and Epiphaneia in six as the middle draw horses who will quite likely want to race in the middle of the field. (www.racing.scmp.com)