Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for a quality 10-race turf and dirt card with a Class 2 1000m Handicap the highest-rated race on the day.
All eyes, however, will be on trainer David Hayes’ newcomer LORD THUNDER in the Class 4 1200m Handicap on the All-Weather-Track in Raced 3.
LORD THUNDER debuts off the back of five local barrier trials, showing above average ability on each occasion. The four-year-old also showed talent in a sole barrier trial in Australia, where he was named YOU’RE THOR, checking home runner-up in stylish fashion.
After drawing away by 1.50 lengths in his most recent trial on the All-Weather-Track, and with plenty in hand, LORD THUNDER looks ready to rock ‘n roll first-up and he has drawn ideally in barrier No 2, making his assignment that much easier.
In the final race of the card, progressive five-year-old MY SUGAR resumes in the Class 3 1400m Handicap with top jockey Zac Purton remaining on board after steering him to a facile last-start victory.
MY SUGAR showed loads of promise last season after winning on two occasions with a further three placings from a total of five starts.
The Deep Field gelding was last seen at this track and distance in early February, making the most of barrier one under Purton where they dominated from the front to draw away by one-length through the line over subsequent winner and other up-and-coming five-year-old SILVER EXPRESS.
MY SUGAR resumes off a very nice trial under Purton, in which he raced under his own steam in second place and held that position as he worked through the line strongly.
He has found a hot race for his return, with other quality types such as THE GOLDEN SCENERY, SUPER TEN and SUPER WINNER all around the same ability. The speed map will be key here, and one who could swamp late if they go hell for leather, is trainer Caspar Fownes’ recent stable acquisition INVINCINBLE MISSILE.
Race 1: Jimmu has been placed last two starts at the end of last season and has trialled well enough for his return. Moreira remains on board and he looks the likely winner. Jolly Forever races on the 7-day back up after storming home late into third place. Diamond Star not tested in recent trial and looks very well ahead of his return. Daily Charm has a chance based on past form in this class of race and looked good when not tested in a recent trial. Righteous Win recent runs have been encouraging and can run well.
Race 2: Steel Win well supported last start and won accordingly. Has trialled nicely for his return and has drawn well in barrier 3 to get the run of the race from barrier 3. Little Thunder video replay showed last run was very good when unsuited on the turf last week. Lumen Baba finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start for his best run to date. Magic Supreme resuming from a break and won a recent trial but will need some luck from barrier 11. Hercules can win this race if he produces his best form.
Race 3: Lord Thunder talented newcomer from the Hayes stable who looks ready to win here after turning in multiple impressive barrier trials. Appears too good for this lot and should be hard to beat. Fortune Happiness good performance when returning to form last start and a repeat can see him go close. Sunny Delight recent trials have been quite good and he looks the big improver. Infinite Power likes to jump and run and he won a trial in good fashion for his return. Coolceleb was an easy last start winner and must be respected.
Race 4: Fox Cheunger on the 7-day back up here and had excuses last start when racing wide without cover. Comes into a low draw, so should map better, and the rise to 1400m suits. Seize The Spirit always worth considering in this grade with Moreira in the saddle. Alloy Star last start placing was full of merit, nice effort and Purton remains on board after partnering him at the back end of last season. M M Johnny changed trainer and trialled well recently, looks the improver. Super Kin recent runs have been encouraging and can run well but will likely be dictated to by barrier 14.
Race 5: King’s Capital drops down in grade and start following off the back of a handy trial. He should be mapping as the winner from barrier 2 under Purton and Hayes looks to have him going well. The Anomaly lightly raced horse who should run well after showing ability last season. Speed Fay Fay placed in his last two runs last season and only narrowly beaten last start, goes close here. Xiang Yin down in class in this race and should perform better and his trial was a pass mark. Big Brook dropping in class and will find this much easier than last start.
Race 6: Speedy Mouse nice 4yo with a good chance here as he tries Sha Tin’s All-Weather-Track for the first time, which he races solely on when in Ireland. Spontaneous resuming from a break and the recent trial win was impressive, looks in for a good season ahead. Harmony Spirit looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. So We Joy good performance when storming home for a nice second last start but his better form is over further than 1200m. Gold Comet change of trainer recently and watch betting. Best form is over further but he has a bit of class.
Race 7: Awe always finishes close up and must be rated a chance at this level from the good draw and off the back of a smart trial win. A wide-open race, but Hayes appears to have him primed. Unicornbaby should begin fast and will be trying to lead all the way from barrier 1. Green Envy well supported last start and won accordingly and should be competitive again. Casimiro has a chance based on past form in this class of race and Purton rides the class dropper. Great Treasure could run a cheeky race at odds down in class.
Race 8: Gluck Racer rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up after posting a big win in Class 4 last time. Has trialled well since and should map soft from barrier 1. Ima Single Man a one-time winner that is well placed at this level and who won a trial impressively for his return. Ian turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Has trialled well in the off season and will be an improver here. Jolly Good Heart racing in career-best form, winning his last two races smartly, and must be rated a good chance. Able Reign newcomer from an astute yard and watch betting support.
Race 9: Winner Method nice 4yo with a good chance here after an exceptional first season of racing, winning three and placing runner-up from five starts. Should have more to come and is horse to follow. Super Wealthy changed trainer and trialled very well recently, no surprises to see a big improvement here. Hong Kong Win should be highly suited by the drop back in distance and respect Size and Moreira combining here. Lucky More has shown ability and gets his chance to win here but he is a noted “roarer” and can he hard to catch. Trillion Win every chance last start but still ran a good race.
Race 10: My Sugar promising type who is a two-time winner from six now and looks to have a few more wins to come. Purton sticks with him for his first-up run and he trialled impressively ahead of his return. The Golden Scenery looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Super Winner should begin fast and will be trying to lead all the way. Super Ten a fast beginner who can run well if he finds an easy lead. Invincible Missile should be finishing fast if the pace is on, looks the each-way bet if his dividend is juicy.