Hong Kong Anal­y­sis by An­drew Hawkins

Sha Tin Se­lec­tions - (Sun­day De­cem­ber 9, 2018)

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News -

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


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 nd 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.


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 one­time 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.


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.


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.

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