Preview and form for the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday. Selections by Andrew Hawkins.
SHA TIN SELECTIONS
(Sunday May 21, 2017)
RACE 1: #12 The Full Bloom, #5 Sunny Orient, #3 Jumbo Luck, #4 London City
RACE 2: #6 Winner St Paul's, #5 Fortune Brothers, #9 Snowhooves, #1 Giddy Giddy
RACE 3: #2 Endearing, #6 Spring Win, #3 Harbour Nova, #7 Accession Years
RACE 4: #1 Fancy Music, #3 Gorgeous Again, #8 Cool Brothers, #10 Premium Champion
RACE 5: #5 Chung Wah Spirit, #2 Regency Bo Bo, #1 Hair Trigger, #11 Sichuan Boss
RACE 6: #5 Infinity Endeavour, #4 All You Need, #13 Wingold, #8 Spicy Kaka
RACE 7: #3 Primero, #2 Star Of Yan Oi, #10 Sunny Dragon, #5 Dollar Reward
RACE 8: #11 Fantastic Eight, #9 Winfield, #1 Lucky Wan Feng, #6 Jade Theatre
RACE 9: #14 Rattan, #10 Cheerful Boy, #1 Citron Spirit, #8 Home Run
RACE 10: #7 Nassa, #3 Booming Delight, #2 Seasons Bloom, #1 Eastern Express
RACE 1: BALSAMINE HANDICAP
#12 The Full Bloom looked like he would break through quickly upon his arrival in Hong Kong after a promising third on debut, but he has not placed in 16 starts since. He now finds himself near the bottom of Class 4 and about to make the drop into the cellar grade. However, after a promising enough run last time out, perhaps he can get win number one before he has to tackle Class 5, especially with Jack Wong’s claim ensuring he only carries 108 pounds. He should position handy and he can make his presence felt. #5 Sunny Orient is the first Hong Kong ride for South African young gun Callan Murray. The horse has found his feet at Happy Valley recently, performing well despite race conditions not being ideal. Now, he has to bring that form to Sha Tin, but if he does so, he will be hard to beat. Lightly-raced #3 Jumbo Luck clearly has talent and is still improving. He has been anchored by big weights at his last two, an issue again, and he does have barrier 12, but he also gets Joao Moreira for the first time. #4 London City led all the way under Matthew Poon last time out. Expect him to attempt something similar here.
RACE 2: CAMELLIA HANDICAP
#6 Winner St Paul's takes to the dirt for just the second time in his career here. The first was an ignominious 10th two years back, but that came in the middle of Class 4, whereas he’s now firmly in Class 5. He has always been better when saved up for one run, but with Matthew Poon’s 10-pound claim taking him down to 117 pounds, it might be worth chancing the arm from gate four and going forward. He’s a player in an open race. #5 Fortune Brothers had not finished closer than eight and a half lengths from the winner in six starts before he suddenly improved to finish second over this course and distance last start. Joao Moreira now jumps aboard and he will be a leading contender. #9 Snowhooves was a course and distance winner back in November, but he has mixed his form since. He was on the bottom of a four-way photo finish at his last run in April, and a repeat would see him go close here. Also in that photo was #1 Giddy Giddy, a horse who probably finds 1200m too far but who has natural speed – such an asset on this surface. He will be in front at some point in the stretch.
RACE 3: BALSAMINE HANDICAP
#2 Endearing ran OK at his first run in Class 4, making ground into third in a race that was dominated on the front by Matthew Poon aboard London City. Poon is aboard Endearing here, taking him down to 122 pounds, and that might be the key that allows him to get his first Hong Kong victory. #6 Spring Win steps out here for the first time since January. He has performed well on a number of occasions, and while he has an awkward draw for the first time in some time here, he should be around the mark. #3 Harbour Nova drops to Class 4 for the first time after lingering on the edge of the drop in grade for quite some time. He is not a straightforward horse but with Zac Purton aboard now, he is sure to attract support. #7 Accession Years has not shown a lot from the trials, but it is hard to leave out any John Size-trained galloper at the moment. He could pop up in what is a fairly weak Class 4.
RACE 4: CARNATION HANDICAP
#1 Fancy Music is a talented but quirky galloper who looks capable of breaking through to Class 3. Matthew Poon hops aboard, taking his weight down to 123 pounds, but the concern is that he may not be a boy’s horse – he might need a stronger, more experienced rider aboard – which could make the booking of Poon problematic. However, the 10-pound claim is crucial here and makes him a worthy top choice. #3 Gorgeous Again has done nothing wrong, improving steadily to win three races before a game last-start second. He is still in his first preparation and at some point, he will hit a brick wall, but for the time being, he deserves inclusion again with Joao Moreira jumping back aboard. #8 Cool Brothers improved markedly for the step up to a mile at his fourth start last time out. He now steps up to 1800m and is a leading player. #10 Premium Champion is worth including for exotics. He has dropped a long way from his ratings peak, almost 40 points, and he looks like he is about to find form again. The blinkers coming off is another interesting move.
RACE 5: THE 18 DISTRICTS CUP
Regency Bo Bo is likely to be a heavy favourite here, but with five seconds to his name since making the step up to Class 3, he is a favourite worth opposing. The horse with which to oppose him is #5 Chung Wah Spirit. He has plenty of promise, but he’s still trying to put it all together after arriving from Australia. He will be winning a race shortly, but he will need a few things to go his way for it to be here. Still, he has a sharp turn of foot and if he can display that here, he can win. #2 Regency Bo Bo is clearly the leading chance in here and has been consistent over this course and distance without winning. He’s got a good gate and should get a soft run, so he will be the hardest to beat. #1 Hair Trigger is still acclimatising to his new home, but he has looked like he is slowly getting there and he appears capable of winning a race before the end of the season. This could prove his opportunity. Right Call is the logical fourth selection, but for exotics, it might be worth including #11 Sichuan Boss instead with Callan Murray aboard. He has improved with every run, although he was slightly disappointing over the extended mile at Happy Valley last start. The Sha Tin 1400m should suit.
RACE 6: CELOSIA HANDICAP
Two promising gallopers headline what is otherwise a fairly stock-standard Class 4 contest. #5 Infinity Endeavour ran a bold race at his second start last time out, where he looked the winner in the straight but somehow found the erratic but talented Sight Leader too strong. The step up to 1400m is crucial for the blueblood, who is bred to get over a bit of ground (by Fastnet Rock out of American G1 winner Black Mamba). He can break through here. #4 All You Need also impressed last start with his debut effort, running home very strongly for second to Relentless Me. He has a slightly awkward draw but he is another who will find himself out of Class 4 before too long. Outside of these two, it is very open. #13 Wingold is honest enough, but he just struggles to find the length he needs to win in Class 4. If things go right for him, though, he could make his way into the placings. Next best, #8 Spicy Kaka, who made up solid ground last start from near the rear. Joao Moreira hops aboard now and he looks to be on a rating where he will be competitive.
RACE 7: CHAMOMILE HANDICAP
It may be worth taking a chance with #3 Primero. John Moore’s Australian import has performed better than it appears on paper in three starts to date, and he looks the type who could take a step forward quickly. He gets onto the dirt for the first time, and his sire Northern Meteor has produced a number of horses that have handled the surface, like Primero’s stablemates Happy Meteor and Respect. In an open race, he’s worth a flyer. #2 Star Of Yan Oi has been very consistent this season. Matthew Poon jumps aboard now, getting the horse’s weight down to 121 pounds. He’ll be around the mark. #10 Sunny Dragon has slowly acclimatised to Hong Kong racing since arriving from Sydney, and his last two efforts over the Happy Valley 1200m have been very good. He returns to dirt here, but he does get Joao Moreira aboard from a good draw. He’s a chance. Debutant #5 Dollar Reward won only one of his nine starts in the UK, but his best results came on synthetic surfaces. He has trialled well on the Sha Tin all-weather track and is worth watching with only 115 pounds on his back.
RACE 8: THE SKOL CUP
#11 Fantastic Eight created a big impression on debut, despite his unsightly galloping action, and then he wasn’t disgraced at his second start. He will be suited getting up to Class 3 with only 112 pounds to carry, and from the inside gate, he should just ping out and keep going out in front. #9 Winfield will be coming from behind, but appears to finally be coming to hand after disappointing earlier this season. Trainer Richard Gibson has hit something of a purple patch of form recently and it looks like everything is falling into place for Winfield. #1 Lucky Wan Feng struggled behind Lucky Dollar last Saturday, but the return to 1200m second-up looks a big tick for him. A strong rider like Neil Callan also appears a plus too. #6 Jade Theatre improved significantly last start for third over the straight 1000m. He steps back up to 1200m now but does get Joao Moreira aboard.
RACE 9: GLADIOLUS HANDICAP
#14 Rattan relished the step up to 1600m two starts back to break through in Class 4, and then he raced handier last start at his first attempt in Class 3 and he wasn’t disgraced. Joao Moreira takes the ride for the first time, but it would be better if he returned to racing midfield before swooping home. If so, he will be hard to beat. #10 Cheerful Boy is always worth including underneath, even if his last two efforts have been poor. The noted front-runner is best when allowed to stride along out in front, and perhaps from gate two he can get to that position easier than at his last two starts. #1 Citron Spirit has been racing consistently of late to get his rating to the cusp of Class 2 territory. He gets Matthew Poon aboard to offset a six-point rise in the ratings after a last-start win, and he appears capable of winning again in this grade. Next best, #8 Home Run, who is worth including based on his consistency alone.
RACE 10: LOTUS HANDICAP
South African import #7 Nassa produced a barnstorming run at just his second Hong Kong outing off an 18-month break to finish fourth to Eastern Express three weeks back. His last 400m was clocked in 22.05 seconds, a clear second best overall that day only behind APQEII Cup runner-up Pakistan Star. He has drawn awkwardly again so he might end up a long way out of his ground, but expect him to be charging home late. #3 Booming Delight will only have improved for his short-head second in that same Eastern Express race, at what was his first run since the BMW Hong Kong Derby. He is likely to end up in a similar position and with added fitness, he will be hard to beat. #2 Seasons Bloom was forced to race wide throughout and couldn’t pick up when seventh last start. He has to shoulder plenty of weight but his Four-Year-Old Classic Series form behind Rapper Dragon has him right in this. #1 Eastern Express finally returned to form last time out with a solid victory. He will have to make another step forward here if he is to win with 133 pounds, especially from barrier 12, but if the real Eastern Express is back, then he is more than capable.
Racing at Sha Tin on Sunday, picture ThoroughbredNEWS