Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns for the final Sha Tin meeting of the season on Sunday before Wednesday’s finale at Happy Valley.
There’s an 11-race fixture to sink one’s teeth into, highlighted by two Class 1 Handicaps
All eyes will be on trainer John Size’s unbeaten three-year-old Blaze Warrior in the final race on the card, the three-year-old aiming for a hat-trick of wins in the Class 3 1400m Handicap.
Blaze Warrior burst onto the scene in mid-June and was backed off the map from $5.0 into $3.3, winning easily by 1.25 lengths. The Sebring gelding was even more impressive second-up as he put 3.25 lengths on his nearest rival while lumping top weight of 60.5kg, coasting away under minimal urgings from jockey Joao Moreira.
Another of Size’s up-and-comers, Blaze Warrior certainly gives the impression that he has more ratings points up his sleeve, and the manner in which he was won, so far, suggests he’ll relish more ground as he rises to 1400m this week.
Size has found a moderate Class 3 event for Blaze Warrior, while drawn pole position should ensure he maps kindly and be too strong late.
Elsewhere, and trainer David Hayes will be confident from back in Australia that progressive-looking three-year-old Lucky With You can go one place better when he returns to Sha Tin in the Class 4 1200m Handicap in Race 5.
Lucky With You made his race track debut 35 days ago at this course and distance, off the back of several promising barrier trials. He struck a slow run race on that occasion where first, second and third in running crossed the line in that order.
The form has stacked up, however, with third and fourth place winning well next time while horses who finished seventh and 10th place have outperformed market expectation subsequently.
Lucky With You has since won a barrier trial in strong fashion, suggesting he’s come on leaps and bounds from his first-up assignment, and with a bit of luck in running from barrier No 10, he looks the one.
Race 1: Telecom Missile racing in career-best from after a stable change and is more than capable of winning again in this race. One Step Ahead last run suggested a win after finishing close up in third place. Moreira stick with him and he will get his chance. Spicy Grill last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. Shanghai Power every chance last start but still ran a good race. Alloy King had excuses last start when racing wide without cover – could surprise from the low draw.
Race 2: A very open Class 4 race and Super Mission gets another chance after leading too quick last time. He was entitled to fade and is capable of bouncing back with a better-timed ride. The Anomaly racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and can surprise late. Harmony Win Win last run suggested a win was very near but barrier 14 looks tricky. City Legend racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance. Amazement place chance at value in a race like this as he comes into a low draw for once.
Race 3: Jiangxi Stamina looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Drawn wide but gets back anyway and will be swooping them late. Formula Excel should be highly suited by the drop back in distance after he failed as favourite over the mile last time. Golden Four backing up quickly from a good last start effort and can run well again. Viva Mama a fast beginner who can run well if he finds an easy lead. Ka Ying Brilliance has early speed and can always surprise with the right run.
Race 4: My Ecstatic was smashed into favouritism last time but was caught wide in running. He still ran well into second place and should be given another chance here. Touch Faith improving type and getting close to a win but his chances have been dampened by barrier 14. Plikclone well-placed and looks a chance in race like this from barrier 2. Strong each-way claims. G One Excellent turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Zacian looks a solid good chance based on last start.
Race 5: Lucky With You looks the one to beat based on current form after turning in an impressive debut run in which he was the runner-up. Has trialled very well since and can prove hard to hold out. Sky Show drops down in grade and start following. Should look the winner at some stage jumping from barrier No 1. Flying Dragon good performance when storming home for a nice second place on debut. 1200m second-up looks a positive. Treasure Of Field best run to date was last start and appears to be improving. All Beauty turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability.
Race 6: Gracylove racing consistently of late and expect another big run as he should map get all the favours from the inside alley. Zone D backing up quickly from last week, can run well drawn alongside Gracylove. Loyal Baby second start in this grade after dropping in class and could improve even more. Brilliant China narrowly beaten last start and goes close here should he find a spot in running from barrier No 8. Green Envy showed no interest last start, forget the run and go on his win two starts ago over this distance.
Race 7: Swot Troopers Wind pummelled in the betting last start and won accordingly at this track and distance, leading all the way to score comfortably. Has a wider draw here but his early speed could see him cut across at the off. Dragon Commander thriving six-year-old who is racing consistently of late and expect another big run. Tailor Made form is good and must be rated a solid chance. Red Elysees always finishes close up and must be rated a chance at this level. Ezra fair run last start and place chance. Should be mapping well from barrier No 4.
Race 8: Lucky Express looked unlucky when being held up at a crucial stage last start when first-up off a three-month break. Looks the one to beat second-up and well placed on 55kg. Tourbillon Diamond has shown ability and has had plenty of chances recently but he gets his chance to win here. Champion’s Way good performance when storming home for third place last start but the 60.5kg impost is the concern. Fast Most Furious placed last start and looks a chance to run well again. Reliable Team a fast beginner who can run well if he finds an easy lead.
Race 9: Drops Of God every chance last start as a short-priced favourite but still ran a good race into third place. Ima Single Man well supported last start and won accordingly. A repeat of that run sees him go close again. Dublin Star was not disgraced last start when beaten by a very smart horse in Killer Bee. Sauvestre newcomer who has trialled well for debut and he may sneak a place first-up from his low draw. Big Brook resuming from a break and the recent trial was okay. Blinkers are added and can surprise.
Race 10: Stronger last run suggested a win was very near and there does seem a lot of pace in this race to suit his pattern. Should be too strong late. Lucky Patch very strongly supported last time and did not disgrace finishing fourth place. Computer Patch should begin fast and will be trying to lead all the way but he may be found out late. Fat Turtle looks the one to cause an upset here. Barrier trialled well recently and he has rarely been beaten far in stronger races than this earlier in the season. Shining Ace has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon, but this is tougher.
Race 10: Blaze Warrior smart 3yo who is the one to beat after winning his past two races with ease. Rises in Class and distance, which is the obvious concern, but you can’t find a much weaker Class 3 than this. Craig’s Star had excuses last start and forget the run. Uncle Steve looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form and expect him to bounce back to form. Kai Xin Dragon recent runs have been encouraging and can run well. Master Hero has great advantage on lightweight and consider.