Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for an action-packed Chinese New Year meeting with 11 races on offer.
It’s the ‘No Joao Show’ as the Magic Man Moreira takes a breather on the side-lines due to a careless riding suspension, thus presenting plenty of opportunities for the other jockeys.
Of those, Karis Teetan looks to have fared best, picking up the rides on California Rad and Sight Success in the day’s feature races.
Thriving four-year-old California Rad’s current rich vein of form sees him the one to beat in the Class 1 The Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m) coming up in Race 8.
The Tony Cruz trainee has been a massive improver since blinkers were added in April last year and he has soared his way through the handicap after notching six wins. California Rad was last seen winning a Class 2 smartly after he was held up for a long way in the straight, but got there on the wire. His stablemate, Beauty Smile, looks a main danger, along with Fat Turtle who will find this easier than recent Group race assignments.
Having drawn ideally in barrier No 1, it should see California Rad map economically, and from there he looks the one they all have to beat.
Meanwhile, trainer John Size’s unbeaten four-year-old Sight Success aims for his fourth straight win when he takes to the Class 2 1200m Handicap in Race 9
Size unleashed Sight Success in late December and the Magnus gelding has catapulted his way 29 points up the handicap from a mark of 52 to a current rating of 81. Sight Success was last seen scoring easily by two lengths in his maiden Class 3 attempt, leading from pillar to post after jumping from barrier No 12.
This week’s race is undoubtedly Sight Success’ toughest test, pitted against the likes of fellow four-year-olds Sky Field, who races first-up and ran on strongly in his most recent barrier trial in very likeable fashion, and Wellington, who races third-up and was a touch disappointing going under as an odds-on favourite over 1000m last time but has since scored a barrier trial by a big margin and should relish 1200m now. The race doesn’t end there – as is the case with most Class 2s in Hong Kong – and it promises to be an enthralling battle.
Elsewhere, barrier No 1 should ensure the perfect trip for trainer Douglas Whyte’s three-year-old Super Ten to get back to his winning ways in the Class 4 1400m Handicap in Race 3.
Super Ten was an easy winner at this track and distance two starts ago, drawing away by 2.50 lengths after leading from pillar to post. The Ocean Park gelding was unable to repeat the dose last time out, but was only collared in the final 50m to go down by 0.75-lengths into fifth place. With the speed map favouring Super Ten from his low draw this week, he should give the all something to run down.
Race 1: Kungfumaster Panda drops down in grade to Class 5 and start following. Based on recent Class 4 runs, he looks mighty hard to beat. Nuremberg best run to date was last start and appears to be improving. Drawn wide, but should press forward early and give a bold sight. Smart Thinker looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Another top winning chance. Hay Run cannot be ignored at Class 5 level. Amazing Agility drawn well in stall 1 and should be in the finish with the right run. Can go well fresh up.
Race 2: Sun Of Makfi looks ready to run a big race in Class 5 and maps to be hard to beat. Jiangxi Stamina finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start and is ready to win in this grade based on that. Sure Win Win making Class 5 debut and must be respected. Universal Record showed improvement at a recent trial, suggesting improvement is to come now down to Class 5. Gorgeous Inheritor has the services of a top jockey today and must be respected, but form is poor to say the least.
Race 3: Super Ten can lead in this race and be hard to run down from barrier 1. Finds a weak race where he can bounce back to his winning ways. New Future caused a surprise last start when winning at big odds but has since trialled well and he can prove to be competitive again. Gold Comet had betting support last start and where there is smoke there is fire – improving type who can be included in numbers. Dandy Years last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss and is another improving type. Light Of Wanshi place chance at value in a race like this.
Race 4: Galactic has had no luck recently and could run a cheeky race. Bullish Unicorn newcomer who has trialled well for debut on multiple occasions and looks ripe and ready to go first-up. Hot Chili Pepper finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start for an improved effort. Run Des Run has trialled well for debut and should be rated a chance. Everyone’s Delight has proven costly to punters recently but will be a better price and has shown ability. Looks a chance in a race of this nature.
Race 5: Branding Power trialled very well in blinkers and is knocking on the door for a win. Maps to secure a nice run in transit from the low barrier and he is ready to win. Dragon Fortune newcomer who looks talented and must be rated a good chance despite drawing wide, but watch the betting market. Prance Dragon looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form and gets Purton in the saddle. Super Mission resuming from a break and trialled well recently, should go well fresh. Decisive Twelve nice effort last start when storming home, appears ready to win and consider here.
Race 6: Green Envy racing consistently of late and expect another big run after missing by a neck on the wire last time out. Decisive Action had genuine excuses last start (blood in trachea) after being heavily supported into favourite. Can improve in this race is he’s right. Donc Je Suis racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and blinkers go for the first time. Appears ready to be in the money. Land Power faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape. Charizard go on solid previous efforts where form looked okay. Maps well from 3 under Purton.
Race 7: The Crown recent barrier trial was impressive, suggesting a big run can be expected at his third Hong Kong start. Master Montaro has shown good ability in the past and gets his chance to win here if he can put a poor last start effort behind him. Invincible Missile drawn well here for the first time in four starts and should be in the finish. True Legend gelded after his last start and can improve – recent barrier trial was very good. Yo Beauty newcomer who has trialled well for debut but the betting market will be the best guide as to whether or not he’s ready first-up.
Race 8: California Rad well supported last start and won accordingly and looks to get the run of the race from barrier 1 where he can prove hard to beat. Fat Turtle finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. Beauty Smile rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Fast Most Furious old timer who is always capable of surprising and must be respected with Purton in the saddle. Star Shine placed last start and looks a chance to run well again in this type of race.
Race 9: Sight Success highly promising galloper who appears a great chance to win for a fourth-straight time. His hardest test to date, but barrier 4 should ensure he gets all the chances. Sky Field ran on strongly in recent trial and form is good. Looks ready for a return to form. Wellington should be highly suited by the rise in distance and he won a trial impressively since going under as the odds-on favourite. Duke Wai simply had no luck last start and overlook the run. Roman Turbo has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon.
Race 10: Kai Xin Dragon will be suited by the rise in distance and can run well at his third local start. Ima Single Man had genuine excuses last start as a heavily backed favourite and can improve in this race with Purton in the saddle. When You Believe had genuine excuses last start when caught wide but still ran well at his first local start. Can only improve second-up. High Rise Soldier finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start and looks a value chance in a race like this. Super Dobbin generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home.
Race 11: Super Football well supported last start and won accordingly at just his third local start and he looks capable of going on with it. Should take beating. Helene Wisdom Star good performance when storming home for third place last start, but again may be ridden for luck. Sacred Ibis generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home; however, a low draw could see him map closer with intent. Casimiro racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance. Leading Fortune racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and can surprise with the lightweight.