TACTICS THE KEY AGAIN IN VERY TRICKY HK GOLD CUP
You would have to go a long way to find a Group 1 race with more question marks than the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (8.05).
The freewheeling Time Warp became the first horse to dip under two minutes at Sha Tin when winning this £1m contest last year but he's been horribly inconsistent since and it's very clear that he can lose interest once headed.
Time Warp's brother Glorious Forever has fewer convictions and can be forgiven his defeat when chasing a suicidal pace in the Centenary Vase, while Exultant took full advantage of the molten gallop three weeks ago but may have to encounter a different tactical scenario here.
Three G1 winners on show in the G3 Centenary Vase and LONGINES Hong Kong Vase hero Exultant gives Tony Cruz his 1200th winner as a trainer in dramatic style, powering home from the rear in a strongly-run race having been squeezed badly at the start. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/utnHIZb17U
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) 27 January 2019
Niggling concerns about this trio could open the door for enigmatic Pakistan Star to revive, while Simply Brilliant (formerly Senator for Richard Fahey) has a hard task on the figures but is on the up and looks a live longshot on his first run over 10f.
All in all, a very complex puzzle in which the early pace will have another huge say in what happens late. Glorious Forever and Exultant look the safest options but this is a hard race to be confident about.
MOREIRA FEELS TIME IS ON HIS SIDE FOR REMATCH WITH BEAUTY GENERATION
He may be whistling in the wind but Joao Moreira thinks he can take down Hong Kong's flagship horse when Beat The Clock takes on Beauty Generation for the second year running in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at 7.30.
John Size's gelding came within a neck of doing so last year and, although Beauty Generation returns at the peak of his powers as one of the world's elite milers, the Brazilian is relishing the rematch.
Beauty Generation is beatable," he said. "Nobody last forever. Yes, he is the best horse in Hong Kong right now but we do have a horse with the potential to beat him.
Beat The Clock is a very nice horse and he's now showing his very best. His last 2f is quite impressive: if he's really gone to the level that we think he's gone to, we're probably going to be within a chance to win. I'm quite excited about the race."
WAIKUKU TAKES ANOTHER STEP ON HK DERBY TRAIL
Hong Kong Derby winners generally use Sunday's Classic Cup as their springboard to the March showdown - unless that is they are trained by John Size.
The champion trainer swerved Sunday's £1m contest with Derby heroes Luger and Ping Hai Star and is taking a similarly careful route with Waikuku, a winner for John Oxx last year who is seeking a Hong Kong hat-trick after two very impressive handicap wins under Moreira.
The Magic Man has certainly been impressed with the son of Harbour Watch, who has been hiked 10lb for his latest win and now comes up against another smart recent winner in Good Standing.
Former John Oxx galloper Waikuku has made a fine start to his Hong Kong career. R10 at Sha Tin looked very strong but he surges clear like a smart horse to make it four on the day for Joao Moreira and three for John Size #HKracing pic.twitter.com/OL4p0e0OfV
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) 20 January 2019
“Waikuku is a very nice horse, he’s been proving himself and I think there’s plenty more to come,” he said.
“I think what he’s been showing so far you’d be going into the race with as much confidence as you would want. I have so much faith in this horse that I think he’s going to end up in the Derby; that’s pretty much the plan, and if I think he’s going to end up in the Derby it means I’d better believe that he’s capable of winning handicap races.
“John has proven that he can do it, get horses into the handicap races until they show themselves to be ready to compete against the best. So far he’s on the perfect path and I’m very much looking forward to what he can do this weekend.”