Hong Kong Diary

Happy Valley serves up an early treat this Wednesday when the feature event comes up as the first race on the card. Zac Purton and Joao Moreira have started the season strongly and both riders have full books on an eight-race programme covered live on Sky Sports racing from 12.15.

  • Tuesday 17 September
  • Blog
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Morning Star on radical path

Hong Kong’s heavy hitters are gradually gearing up for big targets that lie ahead and a handful of high-class horses went through a significant sparring session on Tuesday morning.

The mercurial Pakistan Star has long been one of the most impressive trial performers around and returned with a new rider and a familiar outcome as he eased clear of last year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby principals Waikuku and Furore under Blake Shinn.

Trainer Paul O’Sullivan is well aware that Pakistan Star’s two G1 successes have come at 2000m and 2400m but is planning something “a little bit radical” when he returns to action next month.

“We’re going to kick him off in the G2 Premier Bowl over 1200m and see how the trip suits him,” he said. “He trials like a 1200m horse but whether he can take that into raceday, we’ll find out.”

Shinn described Pakistan Star as “an exceptional talent” but O’Sullivan pumped the brakes on rumours that the US$20m Saudi Cup could be on the cards in 2020, describing the suggestion as “pie in the sky at this stage.”

Derby principals on course to meet the master

Furore and Waikuku failed to build on their Derby exploits last season but Frankie Lor and John Size were happy with the way they trialled and their first target for a new season involves a clash with the poster boy of HK racing.

Beauty Generation won the G3 National Day Cup over 1400m from a mark of 106 in 2017 and followed up from a rating of 126 last year.

But a flawless eight-race 2018-2019 campaign means that John Moore’s gelding is now on an exalted HK mark of 137. Moore reports that his stable star is “a little more forward than he was last season” ahead of his first trial next week.

But the Master Miler will be forced to concede well over a stone to some very smart horses on October 1st. And that is a tantalising prospect to top the bill on one of the most important public holidays in the HK calendar.

Sunny forecast as political clouds gather

Racing has remained largely untouched by the civil unrest that has gripped Hong Kong in recent months but any notion that the sport can continue to exist in a bubble has been dispelled by the presence of Hong Kong Bet in Wednesday’s Cheung Hong Handicap.

Tony Cruz’s four-year-old carries the white silks of Junius Ho, a prominent pro-government lawmaker who has been outspoken in his criticism of democracy protests which have dominated news agendas all over the world.

Promoting the most valuable race of the night to the front of the card is just one of a number of measures in place to ensure normal service continues and those who prefer to focus on pace over politics will find plenty to interest them.

Moment of Power, Little Bird and Speed Vision look bound to set a fierce gallop in this 1000m dash, while smart Aussie import Beauty Rush showed fine speed in winning a recent trial but will find this a much more searching test of his early credentials.

All in all, this has the strong look of a race that sets up very neatly for a horse with the ability to stalk the pace and then pounce close home.

The lightly-raced Hong Kong Bet scores well in that regard and looks very well drawn in stall 2 under Karis Teetan, while Sunny Boy is drawn even closer to the inside in gate 1 for Chad Schofield and returns to the Valley in fine fettle after finishing a willing third in a hot AW contest over 1200m at Sha Tin.

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