Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong action gets under way early for European viewers on Boxing Day with a nine-race card covered live on Sky Sports Racing from 10.45. It comes as a big surprise to see that Champion Jockey Zac Purton has secured just five rides, but Joao Moreira is active in every race on a day when the smart British import Private Secretary also makes his Hong Kong debut.

  • Monday 23 December
  • Blog
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WHYTE GAINING FULL MARKS AS PHASE TWO BEGINS

The first phase of a new trainer's life in Hong Kong lies in trying to rejuvenate recruits from other yards, while the second revolves around producing unraced horses to shine first time out.

Douglas Whyte has already done a sound job of passing phase one and phase two could hardly be going better after the 13-time Champion Jockey made it three from three with his debutants at Sha Tin on Saturday.

Will Power was well backed when saluting a week earlier, while Inner Flame's widely expected win early on Saturday's card was followed when Xponential popped up at 47-1 an hour later.

"I've indicated for a while that it was going to be exciting when my new ones stepped out and they're all running the races I expected them to", said Whyte. "It's been four months of having to sit on my hands but I've learned that horses always reward you if you give them time."

BADEL ON THE UP AS DRAGON BLOWS HOT

Whyte seems to be forming a solid bond with Alexis Badel and the popular French rider has repaid the faith, recording three wins and three places for the Durban Demon so far with the promise of more to come based on the way Inner Flame bounded clear.

The pair combine again with I'm The Conquist (R1) and Victory Power (R5) at Happy Valley on Boxing Day and Badel - recently joined in Hong Kong by partner Eva and new baby Rebecca - is high on confidence after sealing a Saturday double aboard Glorious Dragon.

This likeable grey traded as Stephensons Rocket when showing useful form for Ed Walker in the UK and threaded his way through a narrow gap under a daring ride from Badel to foil the heavily-backed Chefano in Saturday's featured Beas River Handicap.

Still only four, he is clearly thriving on racing for South African handler Tony Millard and has already won the thick end of £450,000 for two wins and two places since he started his Hong Kong career a little over ten months ago.

PRIVATE ON PARADE WITH 2020 DERBY IN MIND

One of the more interesting British imports of recent times makes his debut in Thursday's feature event (due off at 2.15) and Private Secretary is worth keeping an eye on for several reasons.


First, he's trialled very well; second, he's the first son of Kingman to run in Hong Kong; and third, he showed smart form for John Gosden, wearing down Spanish Mission in Listed company at Goodwood before finishing a solid fourth in Japan's King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

There's little doubt Private Secretary has been bought with the 2020 Hong Kong Derby in mind. If he can go close first time out for Tony Cruz off a Hong Kong mark of 87 then he is a very bright prospect, but a mile looks his minimum and this looks a hot Class 2 with several big dangers.

HULK CAN FLEX WITH MAGIC MAN ABOARD

The Hulk and Super Oasis will also be heading down the Derby trail if they shine against Private Secretary and co and both have plenty to recommend them.

Super Oasis finished third in the Australian Derby when known as Surely Sacred and caught the eye strongly on his Hong Kong debut, travelling strongly on the pace for a long way when fifth in a truly-run race at Sha Tin won by leading Derby hope More Than This.

Stall 12 is a concern but Frankie Lor's gelding looks bound to make his mark in Hong Kong over the next few months, while The Hulk is bound to be very popular given how well his close second to Glorious Dragon here three weeks ago is working out.

Silvestre de Sousa partnered The Hulk that night and the pair looked all set for victory until Glorious Dragon swooped close home. A 2lb rise looks very fair in the light of recent events and he should get every chance to show his best again with Joao Moreira at the helm this time.

Hong Kong Diary
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