Luke Middlebrook – Feature racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for a Group 2 double-header, the Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) and the Sprint Cup (1200m).
Rivals Waikuku and Beauty Generation face off in the mile contest while in the sprint race, rising star three-year-old Aethero returns to action after going down in the Hong Kong Sprint on HKIR day in December.
Beauty Generation bounced back for a win last time out over 1400m, however it was his race to lose with the absence of Waikuku and with Beat The Clock not showing up on the day.
Waikuku is the best miler in town at the moment, and again looks mighty hard to hold out.
Aethero has not raced since defeated as the odds-on favouirte on International Day in early December, with trainer John Moore divulging the three-year-old pulled up with a temperature post-race.
“He threw a temperature after the race and that told me we needed to back off him and give him plenty of time to recover and that’s what we did,” Moore said.
Resuming off some likeable but typical trials of a horse of his ability, Aethero should ping straight to the lead in the small field and take all the catching under Zac Purton on Sunday. His main threat, Hot King Prawn, has the advantage of a lower draw and won’t be too far astern.
A good bet comes up in Race 4 when four-year-old Witness Hunter has his first start for trainer Jimmy Ting in the Class 4 1400m. Witness Hunter was formally trained by Frankie Lor, for whom he won two races from 21 starts, while reaching Class 3 and a career-high mark of 63.
Witness Hunter is now rated 20 points lower on 43 and he looks to have relished a stable change based on a recent eye-catching barrier trial. Assuming a good each-way price, I’m very keen to have a bet here in a race that lacks multiple chances. Purton’s mount, Ka Ying Excellent, is hardest to beat in the event.
Leading jockey Joao Moreira, now on 95 wins for the term – three ahead of Zac Purton – again has a decent book of rides with Victoriam in Race 2, Dublin Star in Race 8 and Ping Hai Bravo in Race 9 — all strong winning chances.
Ping Hai Bravo races off the back of a facile win here two weeks ago, and meeting no tougher task presents a ripe opportunity to continue winning ways. His trainer, John Size, produced a three-timer at Sha Tin last week, catapulting him up the premiership ladder into fifth.
Ping Hai Bravo is a typical youngster Size produces season after season, abled of winning numerous times before reaching their mark. While on the subject of Size’s youngsters, note down three-year-old Rhapsody in anticipation of his debut in the coming weeks. He’s been a standout at the trials and looks a smart one for the defending champion trainer.
Luke Middlebrook’s Selections:
R3 #2 Win
R4 #12 1×2
R7 #8 Win
R9 #4 Win
Race 1: Valiant Elegance newcomer who looks a winning chance in this race. Has trialled well on multiple occasions and goes close. Trust Me last start winner who retains good form and can run well again with Purton remaining onboard. Decisive Twelve holding form with recent good trial and looks well. Big improver. Dream Team having second start and can improve with experience. Debut run was good. Here Comes Ted video replay showed last run was very good and keep safe.
Race 2: Victoriam nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a big chance in a moderate race. Hard to hold out. Take What You Need faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape in this type of race. Unique Treasure turned in a good run last start and must rate a good chance. California Turbo had betting support last start and where there is smoke there is fire. Harmony Spirit second start and will be fitter, can improve.
Race 3: Waikuku is the one to beat based on current form. Drawn well low in barrier 1 and maps ideally. Hard to hold out. Beauty Generation returned a winner last start, but in a weaker race. He is the main danger to Waikuku. Ka Ying Star fast beginner who may be able to sneak a place. Furore changed trainer and trialled very well recently. Flying Thunder generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home.
Race 4: Ka Ying Excellent solid effort last start, on pace in a fast run race. Must be rated a top winning chance here. Chairman Lo finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start and can go close second-up. Casimiro changed stables recently and has improved. Witness Hunter change of trainer recently and watch betting (read “Track Spy” for more information). Smiling City second start in Class 4 and has the apprentice claim.
Race 5: Butterfield go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here. Moreira picks the ride and can go close in a wide-open race. Savvy Nine ran the second fastest sectional time last start and appears one of the leading contenders. Helene Leadingstar well sup- ported last start and won accordingly, can do it again. Ho Ho Khan will find this easier than last start and can run well. Dark Dream will be suited by the rise in distance and can run well.
Race 6: Aethero highly promising horse who shows an abundance of ability and is the one to beat. Has trialled well for his return and looks a NAP shot. Hot King Prawn last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. The main danger. Big Party improves lengths second-up from a break and should be respected. Thanks Forever finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. Mr Stunning placed last start and looks a chance to run well again.
Race 7: Aethero highly promising horse who shows an abundance of ability and is the one to beat. Has trialled well for his return and looks a NAP shot. Hot King Prawn last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. The main danger. Big Party improves lengths second-up from a break and should be respected. Thanks Forever finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. Mr Stunning placed last start and looks a chance to run well again..
Race 8: Dublin Star remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here (read “Track Spy” for more information). True Legend turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Can go well second-up. El Jefe last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. Eptiwins change of trainer recently and can improve. Look for him flashing home late. So We Joy looks a solid good chance based on last start.
Race 9: Ping Hai Bravo was an easy last start winner and must be respected. He faces no tougher task and should be winning again. Star Luck has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon. The main threat. Ka Ying Legend video replay showed last run was very good, chance to improve. Sacred Ibis change of trainer recently and watch betting. Can upset on best form. Big Fortune an on pace runner who could finish in the placings
Race 10: Farhh Above go on previous solid form and give a chance. Moreira jumps on and he will be hard to hold out. Everyone’s Joy placed last start and looks a chance to run well again (read “Track Spy” for more information). Ultimate Glory old timer who is always capable of surprising and Purton has a good record on him. Emerald Spur generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home. Such A Happiness change of trainer recently and watch betting
Video Replay Stars
Race 4 – 12 WITNESS HUNTER
Has his first start for Jimmy Ting after 21 starts with Frankie Lor, for whom he hit a rating-high of 63 but has slid back down to a mark of 43.
Was met with market support last time out, and ran well into seventh, however the ride was queried. Looks to have taken good benefit from a stable change based on a recent trial and keep him very safe here.
Race 8 – 4 DUBLIN STAR
Has been a money muncher after going under at an odds-on quote at two of his three starts. Last start, however, he put the writing on the wall after completely bombing the start, before flashing home into third.
He looks ready to win this week and with even luck, should prove hard to hold out.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 6 – 1 STARSHIP
Drop back to Class 4, where he is three-from-nine and last time out, he flashed home the fastest in his race for a promising fifth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. Has to be considered in this grade.
Race 10 – 9 EVERYONE’S JOY
Checked home third last start and his fifth fastest final 400m in the race had good merit to it after he endured wide trip throughout. Prior to that he motored home from the rear in a slow run race for seventh. A bit of luck and he’s right in the mix.