Hong Kong Diary

We looked forward to Sunday's Hong Kong card from Sha Tin while also reporting news of an Australian jockey joining the riding ranks.

  • Saturday 23 February
  • Blog
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OLD RIVALS CAN SHINE AGAIN AS POWER BIDS FOR MORE SHA TIN GLORY

Plenty of European imports to HK take time to find their feet but I Am Power has settled in quickly, winning two useful sprint handicaps having shown plenty of ability in just two runs for Michael O’Callaghan in Ireland last summer.

The four-year-old returns to action in Sunday’s Sam Shing Handicap at 8.05 GMT and new handler Peter Ho seems confident of another bold effort: “He’s up in class but I still think he’s got a chance to win,” he said. “He just turned four and as a European horse I think his best is still coming.

I Am Power’s stalking style should be useful in a race featuring a handful of very fast horses but don’t be surprised if one of his old foes also plays a significant role.

California Archer finished a fine second to I A Power here over Christmas before going one better in emphatic style in January. His latest run at Happy Valley is best forgotten – as plenty went against him in the run – and he’s the type who the market could underestimate here.

HONEST WORTH NOTING IN FULL OF BEAUTY REMATCH

Zac Purton has a typically strong book of Sunday rides and deputises for the suspended Joao Moreira on the unbeaten Full Of Beauty in the Wu King Handicap at 9.10.

John Size's gelding clearly did very well to make it three out of three over this course and distance recently, winning decisively despite being forced to race wider than ideal, and most people will take the view that he's still ahead of the game from his new mark.

But the handicapper hasn't missed Full Of Beauty in hiking him 10lb to a mark of 78 and the horse who did most to trouble him on February 7th shouldn't be underestimated.

Step forward Honest Way, who followed Full Of Beauty through and now has an 8lb pull for a beating of a length and a quarter. That was the latest in a series of solid handicap efforts and, in a race where genuine dangers to the favourite are very hard to find, he looks the natural alternative for those who aren't attracted to trading at odds on.

AGE NO BARRIER AS BAYLISS JOINS HONG KONG JOCKEY ROSTER

Opportunity knocks at various times and Regan Bayliss had no hesitation when asked to become one of the youngest riders to add his name to Hong Kong’s list of star international jockeys.

 The 21-year-old is one of the most sought-after talents in Australia after riding over 350 winners and didn’t think twice when offered a three-month contract by the HKJC Licensing Committee last month.

 “It wasn’t a hard decision at all,” said the Queensland native. I think everyone strives to get here one day. It’s come up very early in my career but I definitely didn’t think about what I could have ridden in Australia or anything like that. I’m here to focus in Hong Kong and I’ll be giving it my best shot.”

Regan Bayliss now riding in Hong Kong
Regan Bayliss, one of Hong Kong's newest riders

Bayliss found his breakthrough with star Aussie sprinter Redkirk Warrior, who contested last year’s July Cup at Newmarket, and has done well to secure six rides on his first day in his new role at Sha Tin on Sunday.

None of them look banker material but Bayliss can ride light at 116lb – an important asset in HK’s handicap culture – and he will be hoping to get a sharper start than Martin Harley.

These are still early days but the Irishman is doing it tough so far with just nine unplaced rides from his first five meetings ranging between 10-1 and 291-1.

Hong Kong Diary
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