Preview and form for the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday. Selections by Andrew Hawkins.
SHA TIN SELECTIONS
(Sunday December 9, 2018)
RACE 1: #2 Charizard, #4 City Legend, #9 Picken, #5 Smart Charade
RACE 2: #5 Jing Jing Win, #6 Regency Legend, #3 Ka Ying Legend, #11 Master Albert
RACE 3: #1 Bigwood, #4 Famous Warrior, #7 Tianchi Monster, #8 Happy Dragon
RACE 4: #2 Pakistan Star, #3 Salouen, #8 Prince Of Arran, #14 Rostropovich
RACE 5: #5 Hot King Prawn, #2 Mr Stunning, #12 Little Giant, #10 Lim’s Cruiser
RACE 6: #10 Helene Leadingstar, #3 Dark Dream, #5 Good Standing, #2 Joyful Trinity
RACE 7: #1 Beauty Generation, #9 Southern Legend, #2 Persian Knight, #13 One Master
RACE 8: #2 Time Warp, #1 Sungrazer, #8 Glorious Forever, #7 Staphanos
RACE 9: #3 New Asia Sunrise, #2 Limitless, #1 Fortune Booth, #8 Kings Shield
RACE 10: #7 Nicconi Express, #8 Noble Steed, #2 Invincible Fresh, #14 Grade One
RACE 1: JIM AND TONIC HANDICAP
#2 Charizard came from near last to win last time out over 1200m. The 1400m should suit him more and he can run another bold race in a fairly thin race. #4 City Legend is becoming a habitual bridesmaid but he is still yet to gain a first victory. He’s going to get a victory at some point and he should enjoy every chance in the run, so he’s a major player. #9 Picken still does little things wrong in his races, but he’s got more talent than he’s shown in his races so far. He bears close watching. #5 Smart Charade will have to defy the outside gate under Yasunari Iwata – not the most comforting thought, given some of Iwata’s previous rides at Sha Tin. Still, he’s a place hope.
RACE 2: ABLE FRIEND HANDICAP
#5 Jing Jing Win has been largely disappointing. That said, he’s at a mark where he’s capable of scoring a victory at any time. This race appears suitable. #6 Regency Legend was a winner of two of his three starts in New Zealand when named Espumoso, finishing second in the G2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) at his most recent start a year ago to the day on Sunday. He’s trialled well and he can be expected to perform strongly fresh. #3 Ka Ying Legend is a rare South American import who looks capable of scoring a win near the top of Class 3. His last run was good enough and this looks no stronger – if anything, it appears weaker. #11 Master Albert mixes his form but he can figure if he puts his best foot forward.
RACE 3: FANTASTIC LIGHT HANDICAP
#1 Bigwood swept up nicely to win two back before just missing out last time at Happy Valley when not having the clearest of runs mid-stretch. He still has points in hand and he can win again here from another good gate. #4 Famous Warrior’s time is coming. He will likely be posted deep under Gerald Mosse from gate 13 but he will be finding the line late. #7 Tianchi Monster is striking form and can’t be dismissed in this spot. #8 Happy Dragon should relish getting up to 1800m and is next best.
RACE 4: G1 LONGINES HONG KONG VASE
Hong Kong has only won the Vase twice in 24 editions, with Indigenous (1998) and Dominant (2013). However, rarely – if ever - has a local galloper appeared in the 2400m feature as good as #2 Pakistan Star. A dominant winner of the G1 QEII Cup (2000m) and the G1 Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) earlier this year, Pakistan Star is arguably the most talented galloper in town – better, even, than Beauty Generation. However, he seldom runs to his peak, while Beauty Generation is incredibly honest. What will turn many off Pakistan Star is his last two poor efforts when last of nine in the G3 Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) and his eighth, beaten 18 lengths in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m). However, both runs must be forgotten – he almost came to a stop over the 1800m two back, the course and distance where he did stop before, while he was the victim of a speed battle last time out. He can improve sharply and he’s capable of being the third Hong Kong winner of this race. #3 Salouen is a rung below the best in Europe, although he did run Cracksman to a head in the G1 Coronation Cup (2400m) in June. He hasn’t won in quite some time, but he ran well for sixth behind Enable in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) last time out – that’s good enough to figure here. #8 Prince Of Arran has looked well in the mornings. He went to another level in Australia and he only needs to hold that form to finish around the mark. #14 Rostropovich is likely to go off at silly odds here and is worth an each-way bet.
RACE 5: G1 LONGINES HONG KONG SPRINT
Probably the most open of the four races this year. Mr Stunning is entitled to reverse form with Hot King Prawn based on their last two runs and should start favourite, but it might be worth sticking with #5 Hot King Prawn at the bigger quote. A winner of the G3 National Day Cup (1000m), G2 Premier Bowl (1200m) and G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) this preparation, he will cross to lead from the wide gate. What has been impressive this campaign has been his ability to work efficiently at both ends of a race. He will give a kick at the top of the straight, it’s just about whether he can hold them all off to hand trainer John Size a second straight Sprint. His former stablemate #2 Mr Stunning took victory in this race last year. Now with Size’s one-time assistant Frankie Lor, he’s progressing well this term, finishing second last time out to Hot King Prawn in the Jockey Club Sprint. He meets the grey five pounds better and with even luck, he’s the one to beat. Outside the top two, it is a lottery. #12 Little Giant is untapped and is worth including in all exotics, while #10 Lim’s Cruiser appears the best sprinter to emerge from Singapore since the great Rocket Man. It’s unlikely he can win but he could hit the board at odds.
RACE 6: MAURICE HANDICAP
Two Derby winners from Australia step out here in South Australian Derby victor Leicester – now named Helene Leadingstar – and Queensland Derby hero Dark Dream, with both eyeing a second Derby success in March’s Hong Kong Derby. It is tough for any horse to win off such a high starting point, but this race has been a successful entry spot for the likes of Werther and Eagle Way in the past and these two look capable based on recent trials. The nod goes to #10 Helene Leadingstar slightly, with Tony Cruz looking to have this gelding more forward. He has been pushed out in his trials, winning handsomely enough, and he should run a big race fresh. #3 Dark Dream is the first of three high-profile Derby contenders purchased out of Australia by sophomore trainer Frankie Lor – he still has Queensland Derby runner-up Heavenly Thought and Rosehill Guineas third Furore to come. Dark Dream hasn’t been tested to any great extent in his trials and should improve, but expect a good Derby hit-out fresh. #5 Good Standing disappointed last time out. He’s got the ability to get into the finish on his day, but it’s just a matter of whether the right Good Standing shows up. #2 Joyful Trinity finished third to Beauty Only and Helene Paragon in the 2016 Hong Kong Mile, before running ninth last year. He can get into the placings in this easier contest.
RACE 7: G1 LONGINES HONG KONG MILE
When #1 Beauty Generation scored a first G1 win in the Hong Kong Mile last year, it came as something of a surprise – especially given that he’d looked just another run-of-the-mill import in his first season in Hong Kong. He did score shock wins in the G3 Celebration Cup (1400m) and the G2 Sha Tin Trophy (1600m), but they were under handicap conditions with a light weight and it still looked unlikely that he’d develop into a top-class contender. Of course, by the end of the season, he’d added two further G1 wins and was named Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year, although he looked a below-par addition to the honour roll. Fast forward a few months, though, and it is an entirely different story. Beauty Generation has not only proven himself a worthy Horse of the Year, but he has potentially earned the “champion” label. To stamp himself as a true great of the Hong Kong turf, though, he must complete his coronation with a second victory in this event, which would see him join three-time winner Good Ba Ba as the only multiple victors in this race since the Bowl became the Mile in 1999. After his record-breaking romp in the G2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m) last time out, it’s hard to see anything beating him. #9 Southern Legend was second that day. He looked to have plenty of improvement in him and the Kranji Mile winner can fill second spot again. Japan’s #2 Persian Knight looks the best of the raiders, although the outside gate means he will go back to near the tail and his problem has always been catching the leaders in time. He has made a habit of placing in the big events without winning, including three G1 seconds to go with his G1 Mile Championship (1600m) win last year. Still, he will be flying late and can’t be knocked completely. Next best are the mares One Master and Vivlos, with a slight leaning to British filly #13 One Master, coming off a fifth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
RACE 8: G1 LONGINES HONG KONG CUP
Hong Kong’s richest race has drawn together an even bunch of horses this year, with #2 Time Warp looking to join California Memory as a back-to-back winner of the 2000m contest. Trainer Tony Cruz, who prepared California Memory, now has Time Warp in his midst and he is oozing confidence about the chances of his free-wheeling charge. His last two races showed the two sides of Time Warp that we’ve seen in recent starts. Two back, he rolled along on his own in the G3 Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) and he was able to stave off all competitors, conceding weight to most. Last time out, his brother Glorious Forever took him on up front in the G2 Jockey Club Cup and they ran some of the wildest sectionals seen over the 2000m; what resulted was a track record time to Eagle Way. What looks crucial here is that Glorious Forever’s trainer Frankie Lor has said that his pupil is likely to try and stalk the speed from gate one. If that’s the case, Time Warp should be able to control the tempo. It is not so much a soft lead that he needs, but instead an uncontested time out in front, just as he got when he won this race last year and when he broke the track record in the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) – a record subsequently bettered by both Glorious Forever and then Eagle Way. The only real danger, if all is equal, appears #1 Sungrazer. The Japanese raider is coming off a second to Rey De Oro in the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) last time out, which followed a win over Makahiki in the G2 Sapporo Kinen (2000m). Perhaps this trip is what he needs these days, having been pegged as a sprinter-miler early. He’s a contender. As mentioned before, #8 Glorious Forever is unlikely to try to contest the lead. He’s not quite at the same level as his brother yet, but it’s only a matter of time for him. It’s worth throwing #7 Staphanos into all exotics too. He has finished third and fourth in this race the last two years, flowing on from a second in the 2015 QEII Cup behind Blazing Speed. The grand Japanese galloper is retiring after this outing and, while a win appears unlikely, it would be a popular result if he ended up in the placings.
RACE 9: LORD KANALOA HANDICAP
#3 New Asia Sunrise ran well enough second-up when finding a fair bit of trouble early – he was carted back through the field to a beyond midfield position, against his usual handy tactics. His effort to finish fifth was creditable and, if he can settle handier, he’s right in the mix here. #2 Limitless relished the incredible touch of Gerald Mosse last time out, only throwing his head about once – remarkable given his previous unruly nature – and sprinting away to look the winner for much of the straight. Unfortunately, he was just reeled in by Raging Storm late, but he’s capable of getting into the mix here. #1 Fortune Booth steps out for John Moore for the first time. He’s not without claims. #8 Kings Shield is the first son of the late Scat Daddy – the sire of American Triple Crown winner Justify and sprinting sensation Lady Aurelia among others – to race in Hong Kong. The gelding last raced when fifth to Without Parole in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. He has an awkward gate, but he’s trialled well enough to suggest he can figure.
RACE 10: HIGHLAND REEL HANDICAP
#7 Nicconi Express looked desperately in need of the run at his first run in Hong Kong and he produced a strong effort in finishing second to Noble Steed. He has to deal with a wider gate here, but if he can get into a nice spot near the speed, he’s going to be tough to hold out here. #8 Noble Steed had always promised to win like he did last time out. He’s still fairly well off at the weights and back-to-back wins wouldn’t shock. #2 Invincible Fresh has finally put together two wins at his last two starts, having only won one of his first 23 Hong Kong outings. Coming in fresh looks a positive move and he’s a player. #14 Grade One is a place chance yet again.
Preview and form for the LONGINES HKIR meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The 10 race broadcast commences at 3.25pm AEST, 12.25pm HKST, on Sky Racing2, from 5.00pm AEST on Sky Racing1 and Thoroughbred Central.
Form includes Racing And Sports complete form service, neurals, worksheet and customised form guide.
Click on the HKJC form guide banner for Racingandsports.com form and select race.
Beauty Generation winning in 2017, picture Liesl King