Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for a mixed turf and dirt 10-race programme.
The Class 2 1200m Handicap on the All-Weather-Track comes up in Race 8 and is the highest-rated race on card.
That race sees smart dirt horse HONGKONG GREAT return to action, the Danny Shum-trained six-year-old Chilean import in search of his fourth local win at start number 12.
The three-time Group 1 winner overseas came to the fore in early 2021 after not doing much in his first six local starts. At start number seven, however, he broke through for his first local win, gapping his rivals by 4.25 lengths and remained in top form thereafter.
His next win came two starts after, again winning by a convincing margin of two lengths before going on to finish third then bouncing back for another win – perhaps his most impressive.
Stopping the clock at 1:35.15 seconds as he crossed the line 5.5 lengths clear of his nearest rival, HONGKONG GREAT is now the track record holder for the 1650m AWT course.
First-up off a five-month break on Sunday, HONGKONG GREAT should be fresh enough to be hard to beat over 1200m, as his two trials for his return indicate. Boasting plenty of early speed, he is the one they all have to run down from barrier No 1.
Elsewhere, trainer John Size’s progressive-looking four-year-old MASTER DELIGHT can score a second-up win in the Class 3 1400m Handicap to see out the day.
MASTER DELIGHT made his Hong Kong debut two weeks ago over 1200m at this track, and, despite not being wanted in the betting jumping a 42-1 chance, impressed with a fast finishing run into third place to unbeaten four-year-old PACKING VICTORY.
MASTER DELIGHT formerly raced in Australia under the name of JET PROPULSION, winning once and placing twice from six starts and boasting solid Group and Listed three-year-old form.
Rising to 1400m will suit MASTER DELIGHT far better this week, as his Australian form suggests he’s most effective from 1300m up to 1600m, while meeting a moderate Class 3 field gives him his chance to get on the board nice and early in his Hong Kong career.
Race 1: General Trump appears nicely placed in this grade and should be rated a chance, and gets his chance to score with blinkers on first time. E Honey important gear change with blinkers being added, expect improvement and can go close. Forever City recent barrier trial was impressive, suggesting a good run can be expected first-up down in class. Chunghwa Jingshen looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form, but his All Weather Track (AWT) form is questionable. Ourgoldenrules place chance at value in a race like this.
Race 2: Fighting Star changed trainer to David Hayes and trialled very well recently, looks ready to win down into Class 4. Boys Party showed improvement at recent trials under Moreira and he should be an improver at his second start. Smart Idea looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Gets his chance in a race like this. Pretty Queen Prawn well prepared for debut and watch the betting. Sparkling Knight has early speed and can always surprise with the right run. Each-way claims.
Race 3: Romantic Trove drawn well here and should be in the finish second-up from a break and turning in an okay trial in between runs. A wide-open race but he has previously placed in good races before and should map to have every chance. Noble Steed ran the third fastest sectional time last start returning to Class 4, always dangerous in this grade. The Anomaly has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon. Stunning Impact remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here. Dragon Baby strong trainer and jockey combination, Size and Moreira.
Race 4: One Step Ahead good performance when storming home for third place last start and from barrier 1, he is hardest to beat. Little Player drops down in grade and start following, will win in the grade very soon. Fox Cheunger recent runs have been encouraging and can run well, should be a good each-way proposition here. Pakistan Zindabad ran the second fastest sectional time last start and can further improve second-up. Alloy Star was eased early before catching the eye late and can be thereabouts under the right race shape.
Race 5: Awe reaching peak form third-up from a break now and can go close in a wide-open race. Fairy Floss disappointing last start but worth giving another chance here, but barrier No 14 looks an uphill task on paper. Unite Spirit looks ready to run a big race in Class 4 if he can run up to his win here four starts ago. London Luckystar turned in a nice effort last run when finishing strongly and remains a chance. The Mint improving type and getting close to a win, each-way claims after closing off nicely last start.
Race 6: Breeze Of Spring narrowly beaten last start and goes close here from a nice, low draw and second-up from a break. The one to beat. Solar Power was an easy last start winner and must be respected but he may not get things his own way on the lead here. Turquoise Alpha had excuses last start and forget the run, can surprise at odds. Super Mission well supported last start and won accordingly, first-up here and has trialled nicely for his return. Harmony Win Win improving type and getting close to a win.
Race 7: Ultra Express winner of last two starts by convincing margins and looks a top chance even if he tries the AWT for the first time. Always trials nicely on the surface, so he should be handling it. True Legend more than capable of winning again in this race if he’s fit to go first-up. Gameplayer Times was an easy last start winner and must be respected at the bottom end of the handicap. Gold Comet will be suited by the rise in distance and can run well. Elon caused a surprise last start when winning at big odds.
Race 8: Hongkong Great talented galloper who is resuming from a break. Should ping the gates from barrier 1 and give them all something to run down, even if his better form is over further. Kurpany resuming from a break and trialled well recently, will be making a late bid. Man Star will be suited by the switch back to AWT track, look for improvement. Red Desert can upset some more fancied rivals on best form as he thrives at this track and distance. Flying Bonus last start winner who rises in class, but can give some cheek on-pace.
Race 9: Gluck Racer winner of last two starts and looks a top chance to make it a hat-trick of wins, just needs a bit of luck from barrier 11. California Cible turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Drawn out in barrier No 13, so it looks tricky, but it’s a weak race. High Rise Soldier had excuses last start when racing wide without cover, a switch to Moreira here and will improve. Star Of Yuen Long ran the fourth fastest sectional time last start when in the market, follow again here. Armando gelded after last run and look for improvement here after he trialled nicely.
Race 10: Master Delight turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. The 1400m should suit him even more and he meets moderate Class 3 field. Expect to see him later in the season in the Classic Series. Golden Link talented galloper who is resuming from a break, can run well. Horsesain Bolt finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start, can be in the finish second-up. Hall Of Champ goes well third-up from a break and should be respected. Star Performance go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here, he should be mapping a chance from gate No 4.