Hong Kong Diary

The impact of coronavirus is closing down much of Hong Kong’s sporting activity but racing continues with severely restricted attendances. A handful of Derby hopefuls contest Sunday’s feature at Sha Tin and Joao Moreira and Alexis Badel are names to note on a ten-race card covered live on Sky Sports Racing.

  • Friday 31 January
  • Blog
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 Silvestre de Sousa comes to the end of his latest winter Hong Kong stint on Sunday with eight rides and perhaps a sense of anticlimax compared to this time last year.

The Brazilian was never going to find it easy to match last year's exploits - when he bagged 44 winners including his first Hong Kong Group 1 success - and heads to Sha Tin on Sunday with 14 winners having had fewer than half the number of rides he secured in last year's longer stay.

That said, de Sousa will take his percentage of at least £1.7m in prize money back to Britain and has the chance to go out with a bang as Enjoying bids to stake a Derby claim in the Azalea Handicap at 9.00.

John Moore's Aussie import took a big step forward on his third local start when third in a hot handicap over course and distance four weeks ago but an old rival who finished just behind him that day could prove even more interesting this time.


Super Oasis has previous with Enjoying. He finished ahead of him when the pair finished third and sixth in the Australian Derby and did so again when the pair played minor roles behind leading Derby hope More Than This at Sha Tin in December.

Enjoying progressed to reverse the form on their latest encounter, staying on well despite being checked, but Super Oasis was only a whisker behind after travelling sweetly under restraint from a high draw.

Columbus County is another Derby hopeful after highly encouraging second and this £200,000 contest also features a handful of bang-in-form older horses headed by Nicconi Express.

However, Super Oasis continues to give the impression that we haven't seen the best of him. He's likely to be ridden more prominently from a lower draw this time and the fact that Joao Moreira takes the controls for the first time is another plus.


Moreira has a full book of ten rides on Sunday and his presence on one horse and absence from another in two earlier races is notable.

The Brazilian climbs aboard Righteous Doctrine for the first time in the Lily Handicap on dirt at 7.20 and Michael Chang's gelding - who has been knocking hard in similar races of late - has a lot in his favour from a good draw.

It comes as a surprise to see Moreira isn't aboard Hong Kong Win in the Cineraria Handicap at 7.50 given how impressive John Size's gelding was at Happy Valley recently.

Alexis Badel steps in for a good ride on the flashy chestnut and the Frenchman has an even brighter chance in the Daffodil Handicap at 8.25 as Inner Flame bids to make it three out of three.

Douglas Whyte's gelding settled matters quickly twice in Class 4 company. He steps up a grade but looks up to the task and Badel's record of 7 winners from 20 rides for the Durban Demon is impressive in Hong Kong's handicap culture.


Fast-improving sprinters stole the show at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with Amazing Starbolting up for the third time in a row under Zac Purton and Californiadeepshot making a striking winning Hong Kong debut for Karis Teetan.

Both horses showed brazen speed to defy stall 12 and the handicappers have taken evasive action, raising Californiadeepshot by 9lb to a mark of 79 and Amazing Star a further 10lb to 94.

Amazing Star has been a revelation for Jimmy Ting and Purton's contention that "he didn't have much left" hardly squares with the fact that he burned off his closest pursuers with a rapid 22.04s middle split and was never remotely threatened thereafter.

A £280,000 Class 1 handicap on February 26th looks the logical next step, while Cinquante Cinq was an equally convincing winner for Moreira earlier on and will look well treated again next time from a 7lb higher mark.

Hong Kong Diary
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