Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong racing returns to Happy Valley this Wednesday with a eight races live on Sky Sports Racing. Zac Purton and Joao Moreira were in double form at Sha Tin on Sunday and both men have full books on a card that gets under way at 11.15.

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Prawn back on G1 menu after career best

Not many horses return from colic surgery better than ever but Hot King Prawn has done so and is now HK's joint highest rated sprinter on a mark of 127 with stablemate Beat The Clockafter beating high-class rivals under Joao Moreira in Sunday's feature event at Sha Tin.

John Size's grey held the late surge of possible Al Quoz Sprint hope Thanks Forever by half a length and will aim for the G2 Sprint Cup (April 5th)  before a return to G1 company in the Chairman's Sprint Prize on April 26th.

“I think time is the governor of all things and that probably helped,” Size said. “His wasn’t a complicated surgery – I think vets are of the opinion that if they don’t have to cut the intestine the horse has a better prognosis. Normally, a horse struggles to regain form but I don't think he’s lost anything.”

Moreira feels it is "a matter of time" before Hot King Prawn lands his first G1 and his confidence is understandable with the news that old rival Beat The Clock - who beat him by a neck in December's HK Sprint - is being given a break and will miss the rest of the season.

Moreira on the fast track for Dubai hit and run mission

Joao Moreira remains  seven ahead of Zac Purton at the top of the jockeys' table but ongoing flight problems caused by coronavirus are causing headaches ahead of his planned trip to Dubai for World Cup night on March 28th.

The Brazilian is booked to partner Japanese stars Glory Vase (Sheema Classic) and Win Bright (Dubai Turf) along with HK hopes Elusive State (Godolphin Mile) and Big Time Baby (Golden Shaheen) but the Saturday night flight which normally brings HK riders home in time for Sunday racing at Sha Tin is no longer on the schedules.

Purton could also be in Dubai if Thanks Forever fulfils his Al Quoz entry but the HKJC would be unlikely to agree to HK's two superstar riders - and biggest turnover drivers - missing a Sunday card and therefore talk of a private plane is in the air.

"It sounds like we wouldn't be the only ones to benefit, which makes it even more sensible," said Moreira. "A private plane could get us home even earlier and then maybe we could ride the full card."

Ryan misses out as Joao gets his Way

Sunday's Sha Tin card put paid to any lingering hopes that Beauty Legacy could be Moreira's HK Derby mount as John Size's increasingly headstrong gelding pulled way too hard and paid a predictable price in the Class 2 contest won by Helene Leadingstar.

However, as one Size door closed another re-opened and Moreira will now replace Ryan Moore aboard Champion's Way on March 22nd.

Champion's Way has gradually returned to his best this season - most recently when chasing home Derby favourite Golden Sixty in the Classic Cup - and Size feels Moreira is the safer Derby option in view of ongoing travel concerns for Moore and other imported riders caused by the coronavirus situation.

Teetan treble tempered by historic first HK whip ban

 Zac Purton logged the 1100th winner of his HK career when Lucky More scrambled home in the Sha Tin finale, while Derek Leung passed the 300 mark on Charge On and 5lb claimer Victor Wong was in tears after Smiling Success gave him his first winner since a serious gallops accident put his career in jeopardy last May.

However, the man who had more reason to celebrate than most also ended the day with a highly unusual place in the history books.

Karis Teetan moved within one of a half century by completing a treble aboard President's Choice, Will Power and Lakeshore Eagle but in using the whip in front of the saddle on two of the three he became the first rider in HK history ever to be suspended for misuse of the whip.

The fact that Teetan had already been fined four times for the same offence was "taken into consideration" as the stewards suspended him for a single meeting. And the fact that the Mauritian had already been fined £500 for repeatedly dropping his whip earlier this season adds another odd twist to a very unusual tale.

Karis Teetan

Hong Kong Diary
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