Luke Middlebrook: Racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for a 10-race programme, highlighted by the running of two feature Handicaps – the Grade 2 Premier Bowl over 1200m and the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy over 1600m.
Just a small field of seven will contest the Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m), but it should be a riveting race nonetheless. Joao Moreira jumps off facile last start winner Computer Patch to ride the John Size-trained Hot King Prawn upon his resumption, and it is he who gets the nod of approval.
Drawn in barrier No 6, Hot King Prawn should work early to sit outside likely leader Voyage Warrior, who has drawn low in barrier No 2 and should find the lead with ease, while Computer Patch will probably vie to cut across on Hot King Prawn’s back having drawn widest in stall No 7.
Zac Purton remains aboard Big Party, who was unimpressive first-up – as usual – but generally goes much better second-up as his record of three wins from four starts reads. He looks to get a good run just off the pace and, if good enough, can fight out the finish.
Lumping topweight of 60.5kg is obviously Hot King Prawn’s Achilles heel, but he carries it for a reason being the highest rated runner as well as boasting the best form in the race. Computer Patch’s last start win, while visually impressive, has to be treated as suspect given the strength (or lack thereof) of the opposition while 1000m form generally doesn’t transpose up in trip.
In his favour, however, is that he is lightly raced, could have better things to come and gets in well at the weights with just 53kg to carry; this is by far the best guide we’ll have for his future being the last handicap race before the set weight races commence.
Which brings us onto the rematch of rising star Golden Sixty and champion miler Beauty Generation in the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap over 1600m.
Golden Sixty should be hard to beat again here as his turn-of-foot is simply devastating relative to his opposition’s, and he can bring it to a wide array of race shapes which makes him very hard to oppose.
Beauty Generation, on the other hand, is vulnerable when he gets held up behind other horses but has drawn better in barrier No 5 this week which gives Purton the chance to find room early as opposed to last time when he drew barrier No 1 and was stuck on the rails.
Golden Sixty does give Beauty Generation more weight this time – 5kg this week as opposed to 8kg last time – so that factor alone could see Golden Sixty odds against. Nonetheless, as both horses are second-up here, and Beauty Generation steps up to his preferred trip, we’ll be learning a whole bunch more: has Golden Sixty improved more? Has Beauty Generation come on since his first-up run or has his form stayed the same?
A lot of questions shall be answered which will be pivotal ahead of December’s Hong Kong International Races.