Racing and Sports casts it's eye, and it's priceline, over the four Group One races on a bumper 2018 Hong Kong International Meeting at Sha Tin.
Hong Kong Vase
Eagle Way stayed on over a rapidly tiring lot in his lead-up two weeks back. Those crumbling from the corner included Pakistan Star. He's enigmatic but comfortably the most talented of the home side and his place in early betting seems wrong given that. He's good betting value, but Waldgeist is top pick with a terrific profile for this race.
His Arc fourth would go a long way towards winning this and it's pretty easy to forgive his Breeders' Cup run last time. His winning form through the middle of the year came in French races run at a very similar tempo to what we typically get in a HK Vase - slow/fast. That doesn't necessarily suit the more stamina-centric travellers.
Lys Gracieux can work in this scenario. She has done most of her racing over shorter trips and showed good speed to mow them down from further back than ideal in Japan last time. Ratings give her a good look and she draws to settle off them, get to the middle, and have the last shot for Joao.
Mirage Dancer is probably the other one with a bit of zing about him. Regally bred, plenty of upside, and well connected with Moore doing the steering.
Assessed Prices: Waldgeist $4.00; Lys Gracieux $4.50; Pakistan Star $6.00; Mirage Dancer $13.00.
Hong Kong Sprint
The Vase typically goes off shore but it takes something out of the box (see Lord Kanaloa) to take the sprint away from the home side and it's very likely staying home again this year. Hot King Prawn is winning and improving but will need to keep on that upward spiral if he is to hold out Mr Stunning who was closing the Prawn down giving weight away last time and could hardly look more on track to peak on the big day on the back of an ideal preparation.
Ivictory on the other hand has looked shot this prep and a return to his peak would come as a surprise having failed to finish off at all in his latest couple. Alternatively, Beat The Clock finished off really well last time and leapfrogs Ivictory on the back of that. He did start just inside IV in Chairman's Sprint Prize betting back in April.
Ultimately, this looks a pretty hard race to beat a well nailed down betting market.
Assessed Prices: Hot King Prawn $3.20 Mr Stunning $3.50; Beat The Clock $10.00; Ivictory $13.00.
Hot King Prawn and Joao Moreira (pink), picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Hong Kong Mile
Another good race for the locals and, as is the case with the sprint, that makes working out an edge against the betting market no easy task.
Beauty Generation posted a high rating winning a strongly run lead up. He could regress on that rating and still win but the pace scenario probably flattered the others more so than him and there is a reasonable chance that he can repeat or even go forward on that rating now. If he does that it's goodnight nurse.
Persian Knight is the best of the rest and can keep Beauty Generation honest. He's got a slight edge on Mozu Ascot and is the one in the race that appeals most as a potential bet.
Beat The Bank and Foret 1-2 One Master and Inns Of Court are smart but it's likely that they would all need Beauty Generation to throw in a bad one to be winning.
Assessed Prices: Beauty Generation $1.75; Persian Knight $7.50; Mozu Ascot $13.00.
Hong Kong Cup
Werther misses for the home team which is a blow to the race and leaves the locals looking thin on the ground. Last year's winner Time Warp and Glorious Forever blew each other up three weeks ago in the prelude to this where the first four to the corner were the last four home in a battle of attrition. Time Warp gave Glorious Forever 8kgs and beat him home in a much more sedately run contest prior to that but the SP of Glorious Forever last time is worth noting. He was sent out favourite so there is an expectation that Glorious Forever has much more to offer - and he would want to.
Sungrazer comes off an awesome effort in a fast and high-rating Tenno Sho last time where he split Rey De Oro and Kiseki. The latter has already backed up that high time rating with another in the Japan Cup. It's great form and head and shoulders above what we typically see among the 2000m ranks in Hong Kong.
Since chasing home Benbatl in Dubai, Dierdre has posted two good winning figures of her own in Japan and they are good enough to mark her the biggest danger to Sungrazer.
Assessed Prices: Sungrazer $2.30; Deirdre $4.00; Time Warp $9.00.