Hong Kong Diary

Some of Hong Kong’s heavy hitters will be back in action on Sunday but this week’s midweek action switches from Happy Valley to Sha Tin for an eight-race All-Weather card - live on Sky Sports Racing.

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MASTER MILER WAS MISSED AT MEYDAN

Popular wisdom seems to have it that Almond Eye is world racing’s newest superstar after she opened her four-year-old campaign with a decisive defeat of Vivlos in the Dubai Turf at Meydan on Saturday.

Good luck to the Japanese filly as she heads out on her quest to end her nation’s long-running quest to land the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but it’s tempting to wonder what might have happened had Beauty Generation been in the line-up.

A line through Saturday’s runner-up Vivlos – who chased Beauty Genreation home at a respectful distance in the Hong Kong Mile last December – suggests that Almond Eye would have had much more to do had the master miler been on deck.

As it is, John Moore’s gelding will bid to stretch his winning streak to eight in Sunday’s G2 Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin with old rivals Conte and Pakistan among those set to take him on.

CHAMPION’S GOES ON HIS MERRY WAY

Champion’s Way stole the headlines at Sha Tin on Sunday, shrugging off top weight and stall 12 to run out the emphatic winner of the truly-run Class 3 Port Shelter Handicap.

John Size’s gelding isn’t a flashy strong traveller but there is a lot to like about the way he finishes off his races and he looks bound to go well again when he bids to make it five from five from a 10lb higher mark next time.

The earlier Class 4 handicap won by well-backed newcomer Golden Sixty wasn’t anywhere near so strongly run as Champion’s Way’s race but Francis Lui’s gelding settled matters quickly, recording an encouraging overall time and clocking the fastest closing 2f split of the day in the process.

The fact that a sensible judge like winning rider Vincent Ho said “I knew he’d win today” suggests Francis Lui’s gelding is very well regarded.

And the fact that Golden Sixty is bred to be stay well beyond six furlongs in due course and he looks a youngster with a rosy future.

PACE COULD BE KEY IN BATTLE OF THE APPRENTICES

The latter comment is still applicable to Alfred Chan even though he walked away from his first day as a Hong Kong rider with no wins from six attempts and a quiet word from the stewards reminding him to “obtain advantageous positions whenever circumstances permit.”

Chan went very close from the front on both his first two rides, judging the pace sensibly, and his 10lb claim will be very valuable if he can continue in the same vein.

The former yachtsman has four rides on Wednesday’s card and the speedy Very Sweet Orange has potential from a very low weight in the 1.45, while Simply Big is another to note in the 3.15.

Frankie Lor’s gelding bolted up from the front on his all-weather debut last month, while Winner Supreme did likewise under fellow claimer Victor Wong on the same card and clocked a faster time in the process.

The battle for the early lead between the two apprentices promises to play a vital role and, if they happen to go too hard, then don’t be surprised if Joao Moreira comes calling late at a fair price aboard Joyful Moments.

FRANKIE CAN LAY DOWN THE ALL-WEATHER LOR AGAIN

Lor’s record on the Sha Tin all-weather track has been mighty impressive ever since he started training last season and his running total on the dirt reads 26 winners from just 99 starters.

That’s a very impressive strike rate amid a culture of handicaps and Coby Oppa and Star Luck both have plenty to recommend them as they bid to improve it further.

Star Luck faded when well fancied on his debut but his morning trials suggest he’s better than a mark of 52 and he’s well drawn under Karis Teetan in a winnable 2.45.

Coby Oppa faces much sterner opposition in the 1.15 but he lived up to a strong dirt pedigree in impressive style on his sole all-weather run and his latest effort on turf at Happy Valley suggests that he hasn’t finished improving yet.

HARLEY MOVING INTO GEAR AFTER SLOW START

It was good to see Martin Harley double his winning total in Hong Kong at Sha Tin on Sunday when Indigenous Star swooped late to deny Chan a winner with his first Hong Kong ride aboard Best Effort.

The Irishman isn’t alone in finding good rides hard to come by during his early days on such an intensely competitive circuit but his attitude remains positive as he approaches the halfway mark of a four-month contract.

“Silvestre de Sousa told me not to expect things to click right away,” he said. “You have to stick in there and take your chances when they come along and, hopefully, things are starting to move in the right direction now.”

Hong Kong Diary
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