SHA TIN SELECTIONS (Sunday, May 24, 2020)
Racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for a handy 11-race card, highlighted by the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) and the G3 Sha Tin Vase (1200m).
Leading riders Joao Moreira and Zac Purton remain tied in the jockeys’ premiership after the pair continued the exciting dual at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with both landing a double to end the night all square on 119 wins each.
The G3 Sha Tin Vase should see the champion pair fight out the finish; with Moriera remaining on board trainer John Size’s 10-time winner from 18 Hot King Prawn, while Purton is reacquainted with outgoing trainer John Moore’s quality four-year-old Thanks Forever.
It is Thanks Forever who I have sided with, after the son of Duporth ran a cracker into third in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize 28 days ago. Thanks Forever drew out widest in barrier 11 that day and was dictated to from there, settling last which is contrary to his usual racing patterns of either being on pace or not far off.
Still, Thanks Forever closed off nicely from the rear into third, beaten ¾ of a length, however a true early speed did help him in being able to achieve that. Hot King Prawn, who sat fourth in running close to the speed throughout, could have slightly been unsuited by the faster-than-average early tempo, but I wouldn’t go making too many excuses.
Thanks Forever comes into barrier 2 on Sunday, which should see him map kinder, while Hot King Prawn goes out to stall 4 from 1. Also, for the weights and measure crew, as we race under handicap conditions here, Thanks Forever is 6lbs better off than last time they met. Though if you want to delve deeper, Hot King Prawn was able to win over Thanks Forever carrying 133lb three starts ago.
Hong Kong’s top stayer Exultant, however, remains racing at level weights in the Champions & Chater Cup, and unless he has an off day, it is hard to see him being toppled.
Stablemate Furore, who has seemingly relished a stable transfer to Tony Cruz’s yard, looks the one who will do the chasing; however, trainer John Moore will be capitalising on the fact that he has four of the seven runners, hence it looks set to be mighty tactical affair.
Video Replay Stars
Race 10 – 10 HAPPY ALUMNI
Boasts way more ability than his one-from-fourteen record states, but he is his own worst enemy – as seen last start when he was reluctant to proceed to the starting gates, jumped awkwardly and lost considerable ground, settled well back in the run but powered home into second over 1200m.
He is knocking on the door for another win while from barrier 4 (provided a clean getaway), he looks to map kindly as he sees 1400m for a third time.
Race 11 – 3 HAPPY FUN
Raced fresh over 1650m at Happy Valley 18 days ago and was backed into $7.20 from high $9s, however he had his work cut out for him jumping from barrier 10. A reliable on pace runner, he showed his usual tactical speed to try and find a position but raced very wide for the first 650m.
While all this was unfolding, the early sectionals of the race were sizzling; Happy Fun recorded splits of over 10 length above standard to the 800m, which explains why he faded into ninth after entering the straight. He returns to a preferred track and distance here, gets Purton back aboard and, just as important, comes into barrier 2 from 10, which should result in a far more economical run.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 2 – 8 NOBLE DESIRE
Remains unplaced from six starts to date, however he has been far from disgraced in his last three starts and looks typical of an ISG type, which seem to improve with racing. Last time out over 1200m at Happy Valley, he was slow to begin and settled well back at the rear, before posting good mid-race and late race splits to check home three lengths into sixth. He looks a good chance to be in the money this week, and gets in well at the handicap under Chau’s 10lb claim.
Race 7 – 7 FAST PACE
Debuted at this track and distance 15 days ago off very moderate trials, which would help explain the lack of market confidence, as he drifted from $27 out to an SP of $55. Despite the market loathing, the four-year-old ran a scorcher into fourth and should have at least placed if not for a questionable hands and heels ride by A Hamelin. It was a big run, which defied the race shape, and with Purton jumping on from barrier 1, he looks the one to hold out.
Luke Middlebrook’s Selections:
R4 #2 Win
R5 #10 Win
Race 1: Like That last start winner who retains form and can run well again. Hard to line these youngsters up after minimal starts, but he’s from the right camp and looks to have upside where others probably don’t. Sunny Star visually impressive debut win, but woefully slow times, however he looks to have talent and keep safe. Smiling Face every chance last start but still ran a good race, worthy of still following and is open to improvement. Super Ten having second start and can improve with experience; looked as though he needed the debut hit out and can improve. Chacheng Prince third at each career start and should be thereabouts.
Race 2: Leap Of Faith looks the one to beat based on current form. Still a maiden, but has run some solid races and has trialled well for his return. Every chance from stall 2. Noble Desire was slow to begin last start, but motored home fast (read “Track Spy” for more information). Armor Star finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start on debut. Wasn’t fancied that day, so needs to do it again. Purton rides. Witness Hunter well-placed and looks a chance in a race like this at his second start for a new trainer. So We Joy ran the third fastest sectional time last start off an unsuitable pace.
Race 3: Enjoy Life has been placed at his last two starts and deserves a win soon; drawn to get every chance from barrier 2 and Moreira jumps back on. Monster Kaka is an improving type who is nearing a win and goes close at his second Class 4 start. Full Power go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here with Purton riding. City Legend remains a maiden galloper but gets a chance to win after going close in recent starts. Don’t dismiss. Mission Smart can improve 2nd up from a break for his new stable. Went okay at his first start for Lor.
Race 4: Thanks Forever flew home late last start, after being dictated to by a wide draw, and looks hard to beat at the weights. Comes into barrier 2 which is a big plus. Hot King Prawn was only fair last start but looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form. Top rated galloper and keep safe. Waldorf generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home, lightweight chance for exotics. Wishful Thinker caught the eye flashing home late, nice effort, can run well. Fat Turtle drawn well and should gain a nice run in transit. Fair runs recently but not out of it.
Race 5: Good Luck Friend narrowly beaten last start, after doing plenty of work from barrier 12, and looks very tough to beat coming into barrier 4. A race with plenty of newcomers who aren’t much chop, so an easier race to score in. Biz Power racing well for new stable and finished powerfully with the fastest sectional time ranking last start. Suited here. Cruising faded late last start, chance to improve under the right race shape. Wind N Grass good performance when returning to form last start. California Levee could sneak a place in a race like this. Faded late last start, fair effort.
Race 6: Sky Darci holding form with recent good trials after an impressive victory last start and looks well. Jumps from barrier 1 and gets every chance from there on the “A” course. Scores Of Fun looks well prepared for his debut and must be respected with Moreira/Size combining. Kinda Cool turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Has things against, however, stepping up to 1200m and drawn widest in barrier 14. Regency Poet showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight, will do the same, keep safe. Gallant Legacy was an easy last start winner and must be respected.
Race 7: Fast Pace very impressive debut performance and looks to have plenty of talent (read “Track Spy” for more information). Sell My Sole well prepared for debut off some impressive trials and looks a top chance. The betting on it late will be interesting. Cigar Buddies newcomer who has trialled well for debut and must be respected from leading trainer Ricky Yiu’s yard. Maps well from the draw. Yee Cheong Pegasus becoming costly as favourite but should be each-way odds here; racing consistently of late and expect another big run. Xponential consistent form lately and well-in under the 10lb claim.
Race 8: Exultant Hong Kong’s top stayer who is hard to oppose. Hard to beat again but wouldn’t dive in at the short price. Furore changed stables recently and has improved. Looks to be in top form and chased Exultant home gallantly last start. Looks the bet in the race. Savvy Nine is a good chance based on last start and keep safe with Moreira on. Top 3 claims. Time Warp faded late last start after pulling up with mucus, chance to improve under right race shape and more than capable of surprising. Chefano was an easy last start winner and must be respected to go on with it.
Race 9: Defining Moment drops back from a fair effort over 2000m and is very well suited by the track and distance of this race. Drawn out but gets back anyway, look for him late. Sacred Ibis generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home. Looks to have benefited from the stable change. Tangmere changed stables recently and has improved. Better form is at Happy Valley but can’t see why he can’t run well here, and Purton does stick with. Dynamic Eagle consider for your exotic bets, knockout chance with Teetan on. Enzemble racing consistently of late and expect another big run.
Race 10: Happy Alumni a bit erratic but has a ton of ability. Knocking on the door for a win and has to be given another chance (read “Track Spy” for more information). Beauty Smile having third start and has shown promise. Moreira jumps on and looks an improver. Regency Bo Bo had excuses last start when racing wide without cover. Has been freshened and looks a good chance under Purton. Flying Victory last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. Glorious Lover ran the third fastest sectional time last start and it wouldn’t surprise to see him in the placings.
Race 11: Glorious Spectrum last run suggested a win was near after a flashing light run, first-up for Ricky Yiu. The 1400m suits and he looks hard to hold out. Happy Fun well suited by the track and distance of this race after doing a ton of work over 1650m at Happy Valley last start (read “Track Spy” for more information). Band Of Brothers drops back to a more suitable distance, has blinkers applied first time and should be thereabouts in the finish. Transcendent has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. Will Power nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a lightweight chance.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
RIDING HIGH TOGETHER FOR A BETTER FUTURE