The Tung Wah Group Of Hospitals Challenge Cup (1200m) is the feature race of the 10-race programme at Sha Tin on Sunday and although appearing a moderate Class 4 event on paper, it does boast a certain level of intrigue.
Trainer Benno Yung debuts International Sales Graduate Momentum Happy, a three-year-old by top-class sire Dubawi out of a Danehill Dancer mare Longing To Dance.
Sold at 200,000 Guineas to the Hong Kong Jockey Club at the 2017 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, Momentum Happy went on to fetch HKD$ 3.7 million in 2019 Hong Kong International Sale (March).
Momentum Happy has been well educated by Yung, barrier trialling on four occasions and showing plenty of ability on each occasion.
Momentum Happy, however, appears to have a few things against him on debut; he has drawn barrier 12 of 12 with his strongest opponents afforded conducive draws.
Of those, Zac Purton’s mount Aurora Pegasus, who comes to Sha Tin for the first time after two promising runs over 1000m at Happy Valley towards the end of last season, looks a leading chance stepping up to 1200m.
The bet in this race, though, is Douglas Whyte’s stable transfer Big Fortune. The five-year-old has been in Class 4 for five starts now and was edging close to a win when trained by Peter Ho last season. Big Fortune maps ideally from barrier 2 and Whyte looks to have him primed to go first-up.
Elsewhere on the card, Joao Moreira has a reasonable book of rides and should be landing in the winner’s circle on at least one occasion.
That could come as soon as Race 1 when he partners Fortune Happiness for trainer Francis Lui. The five-year-old resumes after putting in a solid third at his Class 5 debut 63 days ago and looks hard to beat here with blinkers applied for the first time as well as drawing barrier 1 for the ‘Magic Man’.
Another appealing ride of Moreira’s comes up in Race 9 when he rides trainer Tony Millard’s five-year-old gelding Silver Fig for the first time.
Silver Fig has been a popular market elect in recent starts, however he’s had a fair share of excuses along the way, but putting the pen through his last start and concentrating on his prior form stands him out as a good bet here.
Luke Middlebrook’s selections:
R1 #2 Win
R4 #3 1×2
R9 #8 Win
Fortune Happiness looks ready to run a big race in Class 5 with blinkers added and Moreira in the saddle (read “Track Spy” for more information). Corre Rapido has a chance based on past form in this class of race and is the main danger with Purton aboard. Exponents solid performance last start when producing big late splits and must be a chance. Mutual Joy ran on strongly in a recent trial and could be the fly in the ointment if he shows up. Supreme Witness has a great record in this class and must be respected.
New Elegance video replay showed last run was very good and he can win in Class 4. Such A Happiness form is good and must be rated a solid chance with Moreira in the saddle. Indigenous Star racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance in a moderate looking race. Sunny Power is capable of running a fast final 400m sectional time and finds an ideal race to bounce back in. California Legend showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight – will do the same here.
Big Bully has been knocking on the door and finds a suitable race to breakthrough in, big chance and hard to hold out under Purton. Joy Master has been placed last two starts and can go very close with Moreira in the saddle. Flying Noble has ability in this grade and has to be considered a big chance. Lotus Breeze was an easy last start winner and must be respected if to repeat. Red Brick Fighter important gear change with blinkers being added, expect improvement.
Aurora Pegasus improving type who looks primed to score at his third start for Purton and Fownes. Big Fortune changed trainer and can breakthrough (read “Track Spy” for more information). Momentum Happy newcomer who looks talented and must be rated a good chance, however he draws wide and that will make things tougher. Supreme Plus big jockey change and expect improvement. Mischievous Sundae resuming from a break and recent trial was fair but is open to improvement
Touch Of Luck nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a good chance to score fresh. Grand Harbour dangerous frontrunner and with Chan’s 10lb claim, will give them all something to chase down. Gunnar holding form with a good trial and looks well, will win a race soon enough. Dollar Reward remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win with Moreria aboard. Sky Treasure fast beginner who may be able to sneak a place.
Destin has been placed last three starts, deserves a win soon and goes on top in a very open Class 4 contest. Diamond Legend old-timer who is racing in good form and can run well for Moreira. Witness Hunter has ability and should not be underestimated in this grade, especially with Purton in the saddle. My Power go on solid previous effort where form looked good giving a bold sight. City Legend remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here and can be hard to hold out should they hoon along.
Invincible Missile nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a big winning chance first-up. Fantastic Fabio dangerous frontrunner who can be hard to catch, especially with Moreira in the saddle. Endearing scorched the track when running a fast 400m sectional time last run (read “Track Spy” for more information). Victoriam rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Solar Wai Wai looked unlucky when being held up at a crucial stage last start, can go close with even luck here.
Yee Cheong Baby quality type who remains unbeaten to date and will be extremely hard to beat again. Elusive State AWT specialist who will run well here and do not disregard. Sunny Boy resuming from a break and the recent trial win was impressive, nice horse who can have a good season. Loving A Boom racing consistently of late and expect another big run. Speedy King always finishes close up and must be rated a chance at this level with Chan’s 10lb claim a big factor.
Silver Fig video replay showed last run was very good and he looks hard to beat here (read “Track Spy” for more information). Young Legend racing consistently of late with good figures on the turf and expect another big run. Coby Oppa a three-time winner that is well placed at this level and who holds an edge with solid AWT stats. Winner Supreme a fast beginner who can run well if he finds an easy lead. Massive Pocket remains a maiden galloper but has good figures on the AWT.
Craig’s Star blinkers have been added and looks to be a big chance to score first-up in an open affair. Follow Me a two-time winner that is well placed at this level but will need a whole lot of luck from the wide barrier. Cool Team ran on strongly in recent trial and form is improving, Purton rides and looks one to follow this season. Vigor Fame form is good and he will be on pace for a long time. Coby Boy well-placed and looks a chance to fly over the top should they go quick enough.
Video Replay Stars
RACE 4 – 3 BIG FORTUNE
Races first-up for Douglas Whyte this week and towards the end of last season, he was showing glimpses of breaking his maiden after 15 tries. His most recent over 1000m at Happy Valley was too short a trip, as well as ridden negatively where he suffered a mid-race slow down, however rebounded with a strong last 200m which rated well on the day. He has trialled well for his return while based on past performances, it is probable he will be ridden closer to the speed where he will be a solid chance.
Race 9 – 8 SILVER FIG
Was beaten as favourite over 1400m last start, however he was under a completely different race shape to previous starts, posting well above average early sectionals which resulted in him fading. Prior to that he returned impressive mid-race and late race figures and that should bode well for a return to the AWT track this week where he has drawn to map as the winner under Moreira.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 1 – 2 FORTUNE HAPPINESS
Suffered a horrendous mid-race slow down at his Class 5 debut at the end of last season, rebounding strongly with the third fastest last 400m and big late-race exertion. A Class 5 win is imminent.
Race 7 – 4 ENDEARING
Stood no chance of winning from his position in running at his last start over 1200m on the AWT, however he returned the fastest last 400m of the race which also ranked high for the meeting, so there was merit to the run. He looks a good each-way chance in this race.