Hong Kong Diary

HK Diary returns after a short break with some topical international news and a focus on Wednesday’s card at Sha Tin. A midweek AW fixture gets under way at 12.15 and all the action will be live on Sky Sports Racing.

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Kelly hoping Derby DQ leads to global harmony

Hong Kong’s chief steward Kim Kelly is hoping that Saturday’s controversial Kentucky Derby will be the catalyst that persuades America to change its rules on interference.

Kelly studied the video of Saturday’s race – in which Maximum Security was demoted from first to seventeenth for causing interference off the home turn – and told the South China Post’s Tom Biddington that “the stewards in Kentucky were perfectly entitled to do what they did. However, certainly in Hong Kong there would have been no change to the placings.”

America is the sole major racing nation that abides by ‘Category Two’ rules on interference which state that any winner who causes interference may be placed behind the sufferer, while ‘Category One’ enables winners who cause interference to keep the race unless the sufferer lost more ground than he or she was beaten by.

Kelly is adamant that the latter system is much fairer to punters and connections and, in his role as chair of the International Harmonisation of the Raceday Rules Committee, will aim to persuade American officials that the time is ripe for change when he addresses a major industry event at Saratoga this summer.

The 2011 Japan Cup, which was awarded to Rose Kingdom even though Buena Vista was clearly the winner on merit, may well form a key part of his speech.

“It took something like that for the JRA to change from ‘Category Two’ to ‘Category One,” he added. “I can see a lot of similarities with what happened in Japan and what has happened in Kentucky. It may well be their ‘Japan Cup moment.’”

Generation game remains on home turf

Hong Kong’s master miler will not be taking his show on the road anytime soon. That was the news from the Beauty Generation camp over the weekend and hopes that the world’s highest rated active racehorse would clash with Almond Eye in Japan’s Yasuda Kinen in June have come to nothing.

The latest bulletin must have come as a surprise to Zac Purton – who had been tweeting enthusiastically about the proposed showdown – but it seems Beauty Generation’s connections have a different target in mind. Silent Witness’s record of seventeen consecutive wins is now on their minds when he returns from a break on a winning streak of nine in the autumn.

In effect, BG needs another perfect season to have any chance of achieving the target set out for him.

He clearly has plenty in hand of HK’s best at level weights in G1 contests, but in order to approach Silent Witness’s record he will also have to give 20lb or more to smart rivals in a couple of big early-season handicaps. And, if a couple of strong improvers surface, that could prove a much tougher task than any of the G1 tasks that have faced him this term.

Euro imports to shine in Sha Tin feature

Hong Kong’s midweek action moves from Happy Valley to Sha Tin this week for an eight-race AW card featuring several strong handicaps.

The Class 2 Cafeteria Handicap at 2.45 is the feature event and there is a strong expat presence with Good Omen, Glorious Artist, Turin Redstar and Royal Performer all boasting useful British form earlier in their careers.

Zac Purton has won on Good Omen and Royal Performer recently, so the fact that he is aboard ex-Charles Hills galloper Glorious Artist is well worth noting.

Frankie Lor’s reliable gelding looks primed to go very close and the other two to note are his stablemate Turin Redstar and Raging Blitzkrieg.

Turin Redstar is fresh from a gutsy Valley success and now has the advantage of Alfred Chan’s valuable 10lb claim as he returns to a surface that suits him well.

Raging Blitzkrieg has won just one from 21 since leaving Andre Fabre for John Size but his consistency is hard to fault and his latest second to King Genki over course and distance – collared close home having gone clear – was arguably his best performance to date.

Early moments key as Joyful bids to bounce back

Early speed can be a very valuable asset on Sha Tin’s AW track but it is possible to overdo it and two horses who paid for pressing a fierce pace on their latest start reappear in the Cheung Sha Handicap at 3.15.

Just Not Listening was impressive from the front here two starts ago but the combination of stall 12 and chasing a leader who went through the first 800m in a quickfire 45.00s did for him on his latest start.

He’s capable of doing much better from the inside draw this time, while Joyful Moments is another to keep an eye on.

Joao Moreira was in the irons when Richard Gibson’s gelding paid the price for trying to go with two very fast young rivals who were well ahead of the handicapper here last month.

It came as no surprise to see Joyful Moments falter late after the leader went through the first 800m in a blazing 44.66s.  And it would come as no surprise to see him do much better if his useful claimer Victor Wong rations his energy more evenly this time around.

Hong Kong Diary
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