It is the calm before the storm at Sha Tin on Sunday – one week out from the Longines Hong Kong International Races.
A usual 10-race card is on offer, six of them on the All-Weather Track. From a betting perspective, we’ll be focusing on the turf events.
In Race 1, a Class 4 1400m restricted to three-year-olds, we turn to the Mauritian magician Karis Teetan to kick things off aboard the Tony Cruz-trained Ka Ying Excellent.
The Holy Roman Emperor gelding debuted 14 days ago over an unsuitable 1200m but was eye-catching in the manner in which he stormed home off a slow early speed.
Steadied to the rear of the field from barrier 10 that day, this selection stood the lead speed 6 ¾ lengths at the 400m but reduced that margin to three on the line, returning big late figures in a race where the leader ran well below average – about 4 ½ lengths – to the 400m.
This selection should appreciate more ground second-up and looks a good each-way hope against what will probably be favourite, John Size’s debutant Leap Of Faith – who has done little wrong his barrier trials and looks to have talent.
In Race 3, local jockey Matthew Poon reunites with four-year-old Quadruple Double and together they look hard to run down in the Class 4 1200m.
Quadruple Double won well here two starts ago, before starting favourite next time out but ridden a touch too fast contrary to his prior outing.
This selection was only beaten a three-quarter length on the wire with a big gap back to third, so it was still a great run.
With the rail right out on the C+3 course this week, it should play into the hands of Poon from barrier 1, as those leading or on pace are advantaged.
We round out the card with Everyone’s Joy for jockey Alexis Badel and trainer Frankie Lor in the Class 3 1400m.
This selection races third-up after two sound runs over this distance since late October, his most recent effort 22 days ago.
The Redoute’s Choice gelding arguably should have placed if not for suffering interference over concluding stages, forcing Zac Purton to ease his mount and go to the line untested. Barrier 3 should see him in an ideal position in running and I like his chances on an each-way basis.
Luke Middlebrook’s selections:
R1 #1 1×2
R3 #1 Win
R10. #8 1×2
Race 1: Leap Of Faith has been very well prepared with several trials. Can score on debut. Ka Ying Excellent scorched the track when running a fast 400m sectional time last run (read “Track Spy” for more information). Sky Darci turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. King Dragon ran the third fastest sectional time last start. Extra distance suits. U W Brother had excuses last start and can improve in this race.
Race 2: Master Bernini ran the second fastest sectional time last start. Moreira remains on board. Wide barrier of some concern. Winning Circle showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight. Mr Magellan backing up quickly from a good last start effort and can run well again. The Full Bloom a proven performer at this level and rates in the chances. Megatron can lead and give a good sight.
Race 3: Quadruple Double showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight. Hard to run down on C+3 course. Destine Jewellery has been very well prepared with several trials. Can run well on debut. Majestic Conqueror failed last start but trialled well since. Top chance. Meridian Talent not tested in recent trial and looks very well. The Abraxas has blinkers on first time and will be on on the speed.
Race 4: Exponents looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Gets his chance with Moreira in the saddle. Run Moochi last run suggested a win was very near. The main danger. Bond Elegance down in class in this race and should perform better. Corre Rapido always finishes close up and must be rated a chance at this level. Surewin recent runs have been encouraging and can run well.
Race 5: Super Red Dragon ran the third fastest sectional time last start and looks a good winning chance. Good Runners Way looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form. California Legend a fast beginner who can run well if he finds an easy lead. Curling Luxury dangerous frontrunner who can be hard to catch. Ruletheroost down in class in this race and should perform better.
Race 6: Fortune Happiness racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance to score again. Breeze Of Spring remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here (read “Track Spy” for more information). Strathclyde turned in a good run last start and must rated a good chance. Zero Hedge is back in form and is worth considering in an open race. Supreme Patrol fair run last start and place chance. Improving with racing.
Race 7: Massive Pocket racing consistently of late and expect another big run. On top in an open race. California Gungho video replay showed last run was very good (read “Track Spy” for more information). Duke Wai rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Super Junior last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. Hong Kong Win can lead and give good sight. Open to improvement.
Race 8: Seven Heavens well supported last start and won accordingly. Can go on with it. Big Time Baby has a better chance on this surface and look for improvement. Winner Supreme dangerous frontrunner who can be hard to catch. Encore Boy racing well and has been recording good 400m rankings. Fortune Booth fresh up from a break and should run well.
Race 9: Deal Maker racing consistently of late and expect another big run. Wide barrier of some concern. General Dino good performance when returning to form last start. Coby Oppa has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. Endearing always finishes close up and must be rated a chance at this level. Holy Heart backing up quickly from a good last start effort and can run well again.
Race 10: Follow Me recent runs have been encouraging and can run well. Looks his race to bounce back for another win. Everyone’s Joy last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss (read “Track Spy” for more information). Invincible Missile is capable of running a fast final 400m sectional time. Needs luck from the draw. Ezra go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here. Happy Force faded late last start, can improve.
Video Replay Star
Race 7 – 9 CALIFORNIA GUNGHO
Last start’s sixth placing is better than it reads after he momentarily remained in his stall after the gates crashed back, losing crucial lengths over 1000m. Travelled strongly in behind the leaders from the 500m but was racing in restricted room, eventually finishing 1 ¾ lengths astern.
Can improve on that performance and can be given another chance with Moreira remaining in the saddle.
Race 10 – 8 EVERYONE’S JOY
Races third-up after two encouraging runs into fourth at this track and distance. Last start, when starting to wind up late, encountered traffic over concluding stages and went to the line untested, arguably should have finishing third. Beaten 1 ¾ lengths and did not disgrace himself.
Has drawn nicely in barrier 3 for this week’s race and looks a great chance of being in the money with even luck.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 1 – 1 KA YING EXCELLENT
Drew barrier 10 on debut 14 days ago and was steadied early to find cover. Defied a slow early speed with a fast finishing seventh place, beaten three lengths. The 1400m looks ideal second-up but he has barrier 11 to overcome.
Race 6 – 8 BREEZE OF SPRING
Last start suggested a win was near after an eye-catching first-up run when settling rearward but storming home the fastest into second. Has been back to the trials in between runs and impressed there and this appears a good race for him to break his duck in.