Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong action switches to Saturday this weekend with a ten-race Sha Tin card covered live on Sky Sports Racing from 6am. An eagerly awaited showdown between boom sprinters Aethero and Voyage Warrior is the main attraction and Joao Moreira and Zac Purton have nine rides apiece as they continue to duel it out at the top of the jockeys’ table.

  • Friday 11 October
  • Blog
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Yeung hits the headlines with 250 up

Making the grade on home soil is tough for Hong Kong riders but Keith Yeung passed a notable milestone at Happy Valley on Wednesday night when the progressive Hardly Swears swooped late in the Nakayama Handicap.

Homegrown jockeys enjoy one notable advantage over their imported colleagues in that they can still claim 2lb until they have partnered 250 winners, but the fact that so many owners and trainers have a preference for star foreign riders tends to offset that edge and then some.

Yeung joins Derek Leung and Vincent Ho as recent members of the 250 Club and the popular lightweight was typically candid as he reflected on the achievement: “When I first started I needed 70 winners to finish my apprenticeship and I thought that was going to be a long journey,” he said.  “Within a blink of an eye I’m at 250, so time flies and I’ve come to a place that I never expected to.”

Heavens a live longshot as big two square square off

It’s a fair bet that Yeung didn’t expect to be aboard Seven Heavens for Caspar Fownes in Saturday’s Sha Tin feature but the five-year-old has just 8st 2lb in the Wo Tik Handicap at 10.10 and could be an interesting longshot.

This Class 2 dash features two of HK’s most dynamic young sprinters in the shape of exciting front runner Voyage Warrior and powerful three-year-old Aethero.

Aethero is turned out quickly after losing his unbeaten record in a rough race over six furlongs under Zac Purton last week. Joao Moreira passes up the ride on smart stablemate Thanks Forever to partner John Moore’s gelding, while Voyage Warrior won three from four in dominant style last term and now has Purton and a tongue tie after blitzing useful winners in an AW trial last Friday.

The market looks bound to revolve around this pair, but Seven Heavens showed smart form during his John Gosden days and has run extremely well on both his HK runs over the minimum trip.

His strong-travelling style ought to lend itself very well to a race that could be run at a blistering gallop, while Red Desert won two from four when known as Catan for Roger Charlton and is another who can go well at a price if the big two don’t quite live up to the buzz that has surrounded them for a while now.

Cruz stars preparing for battle again

Tony Cruz used Friday morning’s trial session at Sha Tin to sharpen up two of his stable stars as Time Warp and Exultant were put through the paces on the AW.

Dual G1 winner Time Warp has long been a hard horse to predict but Cruz feels he is “better in his mind” after a two-month spell at the HKJC’s Conghua base and the mercurial chestnut will bid to win the historic Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse for the second year running on November 3rd.

Exultant thrived last season and was crowned Champion Middle Distance Horse and Champion Stayer for a campaign that yielded three G1 wins including the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase.

The former Irish Guineas third seldom shines in the mornings but will also reappear in the Ladies’ Purse over 1800m, followed by the Jockey Club Cup (2000m) and another clash with international raiders over 2400m in the Vase.

Business as usual after venue swap

Hong Kong racing remains largely unaffected by ongoing political unrest in the city but continued concern for public safety has led to a venue swap for two fixtures slated for later this month.

Happy Valley’s sole Sunday fixture on October 27th will now take place at Sha Tin due to the prospect of city centre weekend protests, while the Sha Tin meeting scheduled for Wednesday October 30th will now take place at the Valley.

Inquiries continue into an incident which interfered with Wednesday’s Valley card. Three opened paint cans were discovered on the far side of the track before the eighth of nine races but normal service was soon resumed and the interlude did little to take the gloss off a night when Purton rode a treble to move within two of Moreira at the top of the table.

Hong Kong Diary
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