Hong Kong Diary

Monday marks the 22nd anniversary of Britain handing sovereignty of Hong Kong to China and the occasion will be marked by Reunification Raceday at Sha Tin. A ten-race card on Sky Sports Racing features some of HK’s brightest young prospects and John Moore saddles fourteen runners as he bids to eat into John Size’s six-strong lead in the race for the trainers’ title.

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The buzz around two of HK’s brightest young stars has been relentless and by close of play at Sha Tin on Monday we will have two more strong hints as to how high Aethero and Thanks Forever can fly next season.

At this stage, the sky looks the limit for both horses.Aethero is a rare beast for a two-year-old – he weighs in at over 1200lb – and his two wins so far have been gained in crushing fashion.

Granted, he’s only been in against Griffin opposition – that is to say young, largely unraced rivals – but he has dispatched them in devastating manner while earning high praise from his trainer John Moore and rider Zac Purton.

Aethero now takes on much more seasoned Class 3 handicap rivals in the Riding High Together 1200m handicap at 9.40 but he’s surely much better than a rating of 75 suggests and the early pace he has shown suggests finding a good position from stall 14 won’t be a problem.

In short, he looks nigh-on impossible to oppose, with quirky-but capableAerohappiness and the progressive Diamond Brilliant making most appeal as Quinella and Trio candidates.



There’s no question that Thanks Forever has much more on his plate than Aethero when he steps up to Class 2 level for the first time in the Hong Kong Reunification Cup at 9.05.

Big Party looks the main stumbling block after making it three wins from five starts in runaway fashion here last month, while Lucky Hero and Refined Treasure caught the eye coming home strongly in similar company here four weeks ago and look set to be in the mix again.

But Thanks Forever has created a striking impression on all his three starts over 1000m, most recently when toying with the very speedy and bang-in-form Multimillion.


Slick times have been common down Sha Tin’s straight track of late. All the same, Thanks Forever singed the sward by dipping under 20s for his middle 400m and his final time of 55.11s was only a couple of lengths outside of the mighty Sacred Kingdom’s course record of 54.70s set way back in 2007.

All this was achieved with the sort of natural, controlled power that’s seldom seen in a young sprinter.

Don’t read much into the fact that Purton partners Big Party rather than Thanks Forever as he was booked for Frankie Lor’s powerful grey well before Moore decided to give TF another run.

Put simply, Thanks Forever has looked a potential Group-race horse and, having lost several good rides to Purton of late, Karis Teetan now has a chance to bond with this high-class youngster at the first attempt.



Brazilian riders have a strong HK tradition – led by Joao Moreira and Silvestre de Sousa – and their fellow countryman Vagner Borges is hoping to follow suit as he begins a five-meeting stint at Sha Tin on Monday.

Vagner Borges
Brazilian ace Vagner Borges starts a five-meeting stint in Hong Kong on Monday.

Borges has come a long way in a short time, notching four championships and ten G1s among a career total of over 1600 winners on home soil, and has been on the HKJC radar for around a year now.

Injuries and suspensions to locally based riders opened the door for his first taste of riding abroad and, after charming the HK media at Sha Tin on Friday morning, the 26-year-old was looking forward to his first day’s action.

“The welcome I have received from the Jockey Club and everyone here has been amazing and I now know what it feels like to be a football star,” he said.

“What Joao and Silvestre have achieved internationally means they are superheroes to the Brazilian riders at home. I never thought I would have the chance to ride in Hong Kong so soon but this is a wonderful opportunity and I hope the fans here will see my passion for racing and my love of horses.”



Moreira has been a role model for Borges over most of the last decade and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the pair could do battle in Monday’s concluding Better Future 1400m Handicap at 5.50.

The Magic Man will account for a large slice of the market aboard Beauty Applause, who has won two from four and steps up in class and distance after an emphatic all-the-way Class 4 success here.

A 9lb rise is most unlikely to prevent John Size’s flashy chestnut from going very close again, but Circuit Hassler has plummeted in the weights and the way he battled on to split useful rivals over course and distance three weeks ago suggests that he might just give the favourite something to think about at longer odds.

Hong Kong Diary
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