Hong Kong Diary

We review the action from Sha Tin on Sunday and look forward to the Group 3 January Cup at Happy Valley on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Racing.

  • Tuesday 08 January
  • Blog
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Jollies take a back seat as Jolly causes Bauhinia boilover

So much for the flying start for favourites in 2019.

New Year’s Day at Sha Tin proved a bonanza for the market leaders – with eight favourites and two second favourites obliging – but last Sunday’s ten-race card proved far trickier for punters.

Five of the ten winners were sent off at double figure odds and Jolly Banner, racing over the minimum trip for the first time on his 29th start, became the longest-priced winner of the Hong Kong season by swooping from last to first in the G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.

Jolly Banner springs a major surprise at Sha Tin

It was a first Group-race success in Hong Kong for Jolly Banner’s rider Matthew Poon and significant prizes also lie on the horizon for a notable British import.

New name same outcome as Star stakes early Hong Kong Derby claim

Few people who saw Urban Aspect complete a hat-trick for Andrew Balding at York last August would have predicted that he would go off at 28-1 for his next start but the Cityscape gelding – now racing as Ka Ying Star for Tony Cruz – didn’t know what price he was for his Hong Kong debut in Sunday’s finale.

Granted, the four-year-old benefitted from a canny ride from Vincent Ho, who dictated very steady fractions, but Ka Ying Star was firmly on top close home and is now heading for the Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 27th.

Video replay: Ka Ying Star gets his Hong Kong career off to a flying start

That will be a sterner test of his BMW Hong Kong Derby credentials but horses who score at Class 2 level first time out in Hong Kong often take high rank and Ka Ying Star’s loss to British racing could become even more evident as the Hong Kong winter turns to spring.

Time Warp and Superstar meet again in Valley’s G3 showpiece

An even more notable British import to Hong Kong takes centre stage in the January Cup at Happy Valley this Wednesday and the game plan for Time Warp will be simple.

The former Sir Mark Prescott galloper looks certain to adopt the front-running tactics that have yielded six wins (including two G1 contests) in his new home and the return to a venue where broke the track record in 2017 makes him a worthy favourite for a race that will be live on Sky Sports Racing at 1.45GMT.

However, with three others rated 120 plus and some very smart rivals receiving lumps of weight this is anything but a one-horse affair.

Insayshable thrived for Ger Lyons and certainly hasn’t gone backwards for champion trainer John Size. He receives 20lb from the favourite with Joao Moreira aboard, while while Simply Brilliant (formerly Senator for Richard Fahey) and Gold Mount (known as Primitivo when he won at Royal Ascot for Alan King) add further Euro interest.

Eagle Way and Southern Legend bring solid G1 placed form, but Northern Superstar won two G1 contests in his native South Africa and caught the eye finishing an excellent fifth in the Hong Kong Cup last month.

Time Warp and Northern Superstar finish third and fifth in the G1 Hong Kong Cup

His lack of course experience is a concern but and he’s 19lb better off with Time Warp after being beaten less than two lengths last month and that brings him firmly into the reckoning for the Valley’s sole Group race of the season.

Hong Kong Diary
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