CAN DARK DREAM POLISH HIS HONG KONG DERBY CLAIMS IN SUNDAY’S HONG KONG CLASSIC MILE?
The short answer is - very much so. Dark Dream was high class in Australia, winning the Queensland Derby, and was tremendously impressive when bolting up over 10f at Sha Tin in December.
The BMW Hong Kong Derby is still three months away but the exciting Dark Dream lays down a very persuasive early marker for Frankie Lor by taking some strong Class 2 rivals apart from a rating of 92 under Silvestre de Sousa in R7. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/iIc2PLZjMX
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 23, 2018
He now moves back to 8f for Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Mile – live on Sky Sports Racing at 8.35 GMT - and some people seem happy to take him on from stall 12 over the shorter trip.
Perhaps they will be proved right but Dark Dream certainly didn't look short of speed here last month, travelling powerfully under a confident ride from Silvestre de Sousa, and the way he stormed clear to clock a 23.18s final split on a wet track was striking.
This is a race with a proud tradition thanks to recent winners like Rapper Dragon, Able Friend and Beauty Only, while those who have gone close before becoming major stars include Werther, Designs On Rome and Beauty Generation.
If Dark Dream goes close here, then he’s all set to become a major Derby player. And if he can beat this bunch decisively over a mile from stall 12 then he could be very good.
WHO COMES OUT BEST IN THE BATTLE OF THE BALDING IMPORTS?
It's not cut and dried in a Classic Mile where both horses look realistic contenders. Ka Ying Star thrived for Andrew Balding and looked one of the most progressive handicappers around when scoring off a mark of 93 at York in August, while Charity Go was known as Fortune’s Pearl in his Kingsclere days and rated 106 on the BHA scale after finishing second in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket.
Charity Go has had viable excuses on both his last two starts, being left in a very poor position in slowly-run races, and there’s no doubt that he’s going to improve once he gets a better pace to run at.
Ka Ying Star won one of those slowly-run races, making the most of a soft lead here three weeks ago, but horses who make a winning debut at class 2 level in Hong Kong often turn out to be very good.
Dictating soft fractions helped, but making a winning Class 2 debut in Hong Kong is seldom easy and Ka Ying Star - aka the very progressive Urban Aspect for Andrew Balding - takes a first step on the BMW Hong Kong Derby trail with a decisive R10 success under Vincent Ho #HKracing pic.twitter.com/rCc8akxDdV
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 6, 2019
It’s asking too much to expect Ka Ying Star to be let loose on the lead from stall 14 this time. That said, the way he rattled off a 22.03s final split under hands and heels to beat a strong field handsomely was noteworthy.
Add in the fact that his rider Vincent Ho feels Ka Ying Star is still very much a work in progress and his future could be very bright indeed.
HARLEY IN FOR AN EXCITING HK RIDE
How will Martin Harley fare in his new Hong Kong role? That depends to a huge extent on whether he can hit the ground running in a place where memories can be short.
Aussie Sam Clipperton got off to a flyer with 40 winners in his first season but is on his way back to Sydney this weekend after his support nosedived.
Several very familiar Euro stars have failed to fire in HK but with Douglas Whyte about to retire and Alexis Badel and Silvestre de Sousa about to depart there is room for a newcomer to make a mark.
Martin Harley lands the Irish 1000 Guineas on Samitar
Harley arrives early next month to take his chance (along with Aussie youngster Regan Baylis) and is highly experienced with five G1 wins among a career total of almost 700 winners.
The fact that his minimum riding weight is 121lb (8st 9lb) will limit his opportunities to a certain extent in a culture dominated by handicaps, but he’s no shrinking violet and this represents a great opportunity for him.