Luke Middlebrook, HONG KONG – Derby Day! A 10-race card on offer as the four-year-olds line up for the third and final leg of the Classic Series, the BMW HK$20m Hong Kong Derby (2000m).
And it is Golden Sixty who is the one to beat in the coveted event on Sunday after the nine-time winner from 10 asserted himself a star in the making after claiming the first two legs in emphatic fashion.
Just one horse has won all three legs before, and that was Rapper Dragon in 2017.
The man to get the job done is none other than local star jockey in the making, Vincent Ho. Ho is riding the crest of a wave recently and has forged a strong partnership with Golden Sixty’s trainer, Francis Lui, in recent times – last season they teamed for 20 wins and this year the running tally is 18.
Who can deny Golden Sixty a clean sweep of the Classic Series? Trainer John Size’s Champion’s Way is the logical choice while Lui’s second entrant, More Than This, has drawn well low and by all reports by race day jockey Zac Purton, the Derby distance, as well as further in time, will suit the Dutch Art gelding to a tee. He wears cheek pieces for the first time, too, which looks an appropriate gear change based on recent racing manners.
Meanwhile, trainer Caspar Fownes’ contender, Columbus County, although a four-start maiden in Hong Kong, has been noticeable since day dot and looks a knock out chance at what should be decent odds.
Elsewhere on the card, Purton looks a strong chance in Race 2 when he remains on board Party Everyday in the Class 4 1600m. Party Everyday is off the back of an unlucky fourth at this track and distance 21 days, however there was plenty to like about it in the wash-up.
Settling too far back off a slow early speed after jumping from barrier 12 and, as well as being held up from the 300m – 200m, he motored home late, beaten 1 ½ lengths, all the while returning the fastest last 400m in the event. This horse is improving all the time and this is a winnable race.
In Race 9, a Class 3 over seven furlongs, Joyful Heart is a bet after showing he was up to the class as he took to the grade 21 days ago after stringing together two wins on end in Class 4.
Jumping from barrier 13 that day, he was steadied early to the rear, before closing off hard and fast into fifth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths after standing the lead speed 4 ½ lengths at the 400m.
In the past, Joyful Heart has shown he can settle handier to the speed, so coming into barrier 6 should ensure that, and he looks a strong winning chance.
Luke Middlebrook’s Selections:
R2 #11 1×2
R8 #1 WIN
R9 #14 1×2
Race 1: Sky Show newcomer who has trialled well for debut. Can run well. Evan Almighty recent barrier trial was good suggesting a good run can be expected. Leading Fortune had betting support last start and where there is smoke there is fire. Breeze Of Spring caught wide last start and still ran well. Fresh Power has a chance based on past form in this class of race.
Race 2: Party Everyday was eased early before catching the eye late (read “Track Spy” for more information). Family Leader caught the eye last start running home powerfully. Sunny Power go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here. Full Power finished power- fully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. Menaggio has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon.
Race 3: Yee Cheong Pegasus was an easy last start winner and must be respected. Has trialled well since. Good Luck Friend having second start and can improve with experience. Galactic well prepared for debut and is worth considering. Spontaneous finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. Chairman Lo fresh up from a break and should run well.
Race 4: Tung Wah Glory finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start and is improving. Heza Beauty strong trainer and jockey combination and looks a big improver this week. Party Genius having second start and can improve with experience. Circuit Hassler heavily supported last start but failed to fire. Classic Posh well supported last start, fair run.
Race 5: Happy Alumni finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start, worth following from a lower draw. Ping Hai Bravo has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. Baltic Success is an improving type who is nearing a win. Glenealy Generals had excuses last start and forget the run. Beauty Amigo showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight.
Race 6: Winning Delight video replay showed last run was very good (read “Track Spy” for more information). High Rev nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a chance. More Than A Horse placed last start and looks a chance to run well again. London Hall rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Champion Supreme place chance at value in a race like this.
Race 7: Wellington highly promising galloper who appears a great chance to win. Eternal Harvest rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Victoriam last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss (read “Track Spy” for more information). Namjong Sings remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here. E Star last start winner who retains good form and can run well again.
Race 8: Golden Sixty top class 4yo who is hard to beat. Too much improvement is needed by others and he is a class above. Hard to hold out. Champion’s Way clearly appears to be the biggest danger to the favourite and looks the forecast horse. More Than This every chance last start but still ran a good race. Cheek pieces are added and look for him late. Columbus County nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a place chance. Amazing Beats caused a surprise last start when winning at big odds.
Race 9: Joyful Heart racing well with excellent sectional time rankings (read “Track Spy” for more information). All In Mind has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon. Guy Dragon improving with racing and getting close to another win. Precise Express ran the third fastest sectional time last start. General’s Delight having second start and can improve with experience.
Race 10: Happy Fun racing consistently of late and expect another big run. Star Shine reaching peak form and can go close here. Circuit Three racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance. Seattle Choice rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Harmony Hero finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start.
Video Replay Stars
Race 6 – 5 WINNING DELIGHT
His last start eighth place had good merit to it after he raced extremely tight over concluding stages and went to the line untested inside the 50m, eventually checking home 2 ½ lengths off the winner.
Clearly, he should have gone close to winning, or at least in the placings, but it was good to see he remained in good form after a win two starts ago. Drops down in grade this week due to the extend ratings band and should be a major player.
Race 9 – 14 JOYFUL HEART
Showed he was up to Class 3 level as he took to the grade 21 days ago after putting together two wins on end in Class 4. Jumped from barrier 13 that day and was steadied early to the rear before closing off hard and fast into fifth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths after standing the lead speed 4 ½ lengths at the 400m.
Has shown in the past that he can settle handier, so coming into barrier 6 should ensure that, and he is one to follow.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 2 – 11 PARTY EVERYDAY
His fastest final sectional in his last race had good merit to it as he settled too far back off a slow early speed and, as well as encountering traffic in the straight, powered home into fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths. Improving all the time and worth a follow.
Race 7 – 2 VICTORIAM
Was dictated to by a wide barrier last start as the $2.40 favourite, getting well back in a slow run race before dashing home the third fastest in the event for a promising fifth place. Remains one to follow this week.