Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns at Sha Tin on Sunday for an action-packed day’s racing with Group 2 triple-header, the Jockey Club Sprint, the Jockey Club Mile and the Jockey Club Cup.
Hong Kong’s best horse, GOLDEN SIXTY, makes his highly anticipated return to the racetrack in the Grade 2 Jockey Club Mile.
GOLDEN SIXTY aims to extended his winning streak to 15 when he resumes and was last seen landing the G1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on 25 April, his fourth win at the highest level. History beckons this preparation as the now six-year-old GOLDEN SIXTY needs three more wins to equal the 17-win Hong Kong record streak set by SILENT WITNESS.
One talking point ahead of GOLDEN SIXTY’S return, is the fact that he’s been winning barrier trials during the break (three in total) – something he’s never done in the past.
Also adding to the theatre for GOLDEN SIXTY’S season ahead is the fact rival trainer Caspar Fownes sent out a strong message in the off season: “I want to beat Golden Sixty this year. That’s my target, to try and knock the champ off – I’m sure I’d be a crowd favourite if I could do that,” he said.
A small, select field on Sunday will ensure a highly-tactical affair, as seen in GOLDEN SIXTY’S last three runs when he was winning by just head on the wire.
There were more questions provided than answers after the running of the G2 Premier Bowl (1200m) at Sha Tin on 17 October, but Sunday’s G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) should paint a clearer picture ahead of December’s G1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
Heading the ratings is the winner of this race last season HOT KING PRAWN. The seven-year-old is first-up off an eight-month break, contrary to being second-up when claiming the feature race last term. Another who is first-up after a setback and missing the Premier Bowl is G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize winner WELLINGTON. He pulled up sore after a trial in early October.
The Premier Bowl was a fast run race. Those first, second, third and fourth in running all finished eighth or worse in the field of 12. SUPER WEALTHY turned in a solid run into second place after mapping close to the speed while beaten favourite, COURIER WONDER, was not disgraced finishing fifth place. He was first-up on that occasion and suffered a chequered run in the straight and passing the 300m was very awkwardly placed. He will be a big improver this week.
NABOO ATTACK is due for some luck after not having much in his past two runs. He reacquaints with Zac Purton, who knows him well. SKY FIELD was ridden upside down on pace in the Premier Bowl and faded to 10th place, but they will revert to quieter tactics here and an improved effort is likely.
Race 1: En Pointe newcomer who looks talented and must be rated a good chance on debut. He has drawn wide, but if good enough, he just wins. E Brother holding form with recent good trial after a promising second place last start and looks well. Running Glory from astute yard and watch betting support at his first start. Has shown some promise and has a good barrier here. Seasons Bliss last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. Solar Partner turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability.
Race 2: Emerald Spur can bounce back a winner anytime in this class and he trialled well recently. Gets Moreira in the saddle, has a good gate and looks to get all the favours. Young Victory the lightweight will help and can run well in a race like this. Good Buddy last start winner who retains good form and can run well again if to overcome the wide barrier. Peak To Peak caused a surprise last start when winning at big odds, chance again if he’s held form. Compulsory recent barrier trial was okay, suggesting an improved run can be expected.
Race 3: Fascinating race on the undercard here with Master Eight who remains unbeaten in three starts trying the 1000m for the first time. He has made all in the running in his wins and can do the same here. Nervous Witness disappointing last start when beaten at $1.1, but he should be given another chance here. Valiant Dream ran home in a fast sectional times last run and looks well. Hong Kong Win can bounce back a winner anytime in this class. Loving A Boom is capable of running a fast final 400m sectional time.
Race 4: Horsesain Bolt caught wide last start and still ran well and looks to map ideally here from a low draw. He has been knocking on the door for a win and this race looks ideal for him to shake the monkey off his back. Beauty Legacy fresh up from a break and should run well after winning a trial in good fashion recently. Copartner Ambition generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home, look for him making a late bid if they hoon along. Captain Win barrier trialled well under Purton recently and look for improvement. Dragon Fortune go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here.
Race 5: Entrusted nice effort last run after being held up at a crucial stage but finding the line strongly once clear. A wide-open race, but his chances look strong from a good gate. Precise Express has been knocking on the door and win won’t surprise, keep safe. God Of Dragon changed stables recently and has improved and he looks capable of remaining competitive here. Golden Spectrum weakened last run after showing speed but can improve. Helene Allibor recent runs have been encouraging and can run well from barrier 1.
Race 6: Courier Wonder needed the run first-up last time and he also suffered interference in the straight, however he wasn’t beaten far and did race close to a hot speed. He gets another chance here. Wellington remains unbeaten when first-up from a break, big chance. Sky Field ridden too close to a hot speed last start but they will ride quieter here and he will improve. Hot King Prawn winner of this race last year and looks a chance again if he’s fit enough first-up (he was second-up into this race last term). Naboo Attack has had no luck recently and give another chance here with Purton in the saddle.
Race 7: Golden Sixty Hong Kong’s best horse who needs no introduction. He has been trialling the house down ahead of his return and is primed to continue his winning ways and edge closer to Silent Witness’ record. Sky Darci simply had no luck last start and overlook the run. Waikuku can improve second-up from a break after being underdone first-up as well as being held up in the straight. Champion’s Way finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start; place claims preferred. Precious- ship good performance when storming home for a nice second last start.
Race 8: Panfield G1 Champions & Chater winner who is asserting himself Hong Kong’s best stayer in the making and who is a top chance after winning impressively over the mile when first-up last time. Glorious Dragon is due for some luck in running and with the right run, he can give this a shake. Columbus County had genuine excuses last start and consider again, third-up now and will be thereabouts. Ka Ying Star looks a solid good chance based on last start. Reliable Team showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight.
Race 9: C P Brave disappointing last start but worth giving another chance here from barrier 1 under Moreira and after trialling smartly in between runs. Zebrowski promising stayer who is a top chance after a good win over this distance at Happy Valley last start. Celestial Power last start winner who retains good form and can run well again. Flying Quest placed last start and looks a chance to run well again. California Ten rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up now that the penny looks to have dropped.
Race 10: California Spangle last start placing was full of merit, nice effort and he can bounce for the win here with some early luck from the wide draw. Hard to oppose. Packing Lad from astute yard and watch betting support, looks to have plenty of untapped ability and has improved in each and every trial in Hong Kong ahead of his debut here. Carroll Street caught the eye last start when running home well Never Too Soon turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Ennea Fortune last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss.