Hong Kong Diary

Royal Ascot is dominating the racing news cycle but there are some strong handicaps at Sha Tin this Sunday. Sky Sports Racing has all the live action as usual on a card featuring several familiar British imports.

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ASCOT GOES GLOBAL WITH FIRST WORLD POOL

Hong Kong breaks new ground on two important fronts at Royal Ascot this year.

This is the first time that all five days of Britain’s most famous Flat fixture will be Simulcast into Hong Kong and next week’s meeting also marks the debut of a World Pool which will see Hong Kong as the global hub for Tote bets placed in Europe, Hong Kong, America, Canada. New Zealand and Australia.

The World Pool will include four markets, namely Win, Place, Quinella (the first two home in either order) and the Quinella Place (name any two horses to finish in the first three).

The Quinella Place (or QP) is hugely popular in HK and looks the sort of bet that could be a great fit for Royal Ascot, especially for those who can identify a live longshot.

And, on a related topic, history suggests that there is considerable mileage in thinking outside the box.

Star names like Dettori, Moore and O’Brien will always be strongly supported by Hong Kong punters, but lesser-known outfits do prevail at the Royal meeting and anyone who had the foresight to start the week backing 33-1 Queen Anne winner Accidental Agent last year would have been paid out at 61-1 on the Hong Kong Tote.

SHIELD SHINES ON SHA TIN DIRT

The St James’s Palace Stakes is perhaps less well known as a source of Hong Kong talent but memories of last year’s race came back at Sha Tin on Wednesday night when King’s Shield bolted up under Derek Leung in the finale.

The four-year-old, trained by John Gosden when an honourable fifth in the day one showpiece 12 months ago, was winless in seven attempts on turf for his new handler Frankie Lor when he lined up for the Class 3 Lido Handicap.

However, King’s Shield is bred to shine on the dirt and became the first son of his sire Scat Daddy to win in Hong Kong with a runaway success.

Time is running out for King’s Shield to shine again this season, but he’s clearly found his niche now and Lor – with an All-Weather record of 32 winners from just 122 runners since he started training last season – continues to have a very sure touch when he heads for the dirt.

SCOUTS OUT IN FORCE SEEKING HK HEROES

Royal Ascot has always been a catwalk in fashion terms but it serves a similar purpose nowadays for horses with the potential to excel in Hong Kong.

The Britannia Handicap has been a fertile source of transfers over the years with horses like Born In Bombay (now Born In China), Chief Whip (California Whip) and Simply Brilliant (Senator) all winning or running well in the big mile handicap before going on to thrive in Hong Kong.

However, history also suggests that Thursday’s Hampton Court Stakes is well worth noting as a potential springboard for Hong Kong glory.

Collection won the race for William Haggas in 2008 before landing the Hong Kong Derby for John Moore, while this year’s Champion Stayer Exultant advertised his Hong Kong credentials by finishing fifth in the 2017 Hampton Court when known as Irishcorrespondent for Michael Halford.

AQUILA SET TO REWARD THE EARLY RISERS

Several familiar British imports will be fancied to go well on this Sunday’s Sha Tin card.

Former German Guineas runner-up Lockheed is winless in 15 Hong Kong attempts after being bought for 900,000 sterling at the pre-Ascot sale two years ago but is running well enough to suggest he can go well in the Wyndham Handicap at 9.05.

Solomon’s Bay, who was smart for Roger Varian, has the assistance of Alfie Chan’s valuable 10lb claim in the same race, while early risers should keep a close eye on Aquila in the D’Aguilar Handicap at 6.30.

Aquila lined up for his Sha Tin debut with a big reputation in April and showed excellent speed until worn down close home.

A runaway recent trial win suggests that he ought to be hard to catch this time, while those who prefer a rather longer Sunday lie-in could find the progressive Glenealy Generals and well-handicapped New Asia Sunrise worth a second look in the Sports Club Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup at 9.35.

Hong Kong Diary
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