Hong Kong Diary

Zac Purton needs just one more success to raise his bat for a hundred winners this season, while his great rival Joao Moreira has been dealt a challenging wide draw as the unbeaten Champion’s Way bids to make it five in a row. Set the alarms early for an eleven-race card as Sky Sports Racing brings you all the live action from Sha Tin this Sunday.

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RISPOLI ON A ROLL AS G1 TARGET BECKONS

Remember Bing Bang Bong?

The Big Bad Bob gelding with the distinctive name who finished second to the Queen’s Recorder in the Acomb Stakes at York in 2016 is now known as Big Bang Bong and continuing to earn his keep as a hard-knocking handicapper on the Hong Kong circuit.

The six-year-old took his career earnings to around 600,000 sterling with a gutsy success in the finale at Happy Valley on Wednesday and in doing so completed a double for Umberto Rispoli.

Chances have to be seized swiftly on the intense local circuit but the much-travelled Italian is in upbeat mood as he looks forward to riding John Moore’s Eagle Way in the G1 QEII Cup on April 28th.

Rispoli is no stranger to QEII success having won the QEII on Japanese raider Rulership in 2012 and feels that “Eagle Way ran a great race to chase home Beauty Generation over 8f last week and will be coming home strongly if the pace is on in the QEII.”

RIVALS RUNNING SCARED OF HK’S MASTER MILER

It’s strange to see such a lack of European interest in the three Group 1 contests run on FWD Champions Day – they are worth the thick end of £6m, after all – but Japan and Australia promise to have a notable say in two weeks’ time.

Aussie sprinters Santa Ana Lane and Viddora could both be Royal Ascot bound after they take on Hong Kong’s best in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, while Deirdre and Lys Gracieux have unfinished business in the QEII Cup having finished second in the Hong Kong Vase and the Hong Kong Cup during HKIR week in December.

However, Hong Kong’s master miler Beauty Generation seems to have scared off all foreign opposition as he bids to take his winning streak to nine in the FWD Champions Mile.

John Moore’s gelding has been sent off at 1.1, 1.2 and 1.1 for his last three wins – and it would be unwise to hold your breath for anything more generous when he bids to repeat last year’s Champions Mile success.

CHAMPION’S NEEDS TO FIND A WAY FROM WIDE AGAIN

From Champions Day to Champion’s Way as the unbeaten gelding of that name bids to stretch his unbeaten run to five in Sunday’s Topaz Handicap (10.45am) at Sha Tin.

John Size’s gelding has been thriving from wide gates over 6f and the draw gods have set him another test as he tries to defy stall 14 this time around.

Stats from the C track at Sha Tin show the outside stall isn’t the hardship that many people would expect over 7f and Champion’s Way has been so dominant in the closing stages of his races that this step up in distance looks a very sensible move.

However, the odds are bound to be short as he tries to defy another 10lb hike and the improving Kasi Farasi and Beauty Spirit will be poised to capitalize if the handicapper is finally starting to get to grips with the hot favourite.

PARTY COULD BE TESTED AS HE RETURNS FROM AN ABSENCE

Arguably the most interesting horse on the Sha Tin card from a market perspective is Big Party, who bids to defy a hefty 13lb hike for a crushing course and distance success in the Ruby Handicap over 6f at 9.35am.

Frankie Lor’s powerful grey looked miles ahead of the handicapper on New Year’s Day, beating a handful of subsequent winners with bundles in hand, and it’s tempting to think that he has the raw ability to prove much better than his new mark of 74.

That said, Big Party missed a February target due to lameness and looked somewhat rusty in a recent morning trial, missing the break then moving a shade awkwardly before running on.

That performance created a shaft of light for those taking him on at short odds. Mr Croissant is one viable alternative in receipt of 13lb after an emphatic success under Ryan Moore on Derby day. And Racing Fighter has Zac Purton and a string of strong Class 3 efforts to his credit as he drops down to a trip that could prove ideal.

Hong Kong Diary
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