This Sunday sees racing from Sha Tin with a wonderful looking ten-race card on the turf featuring a double helping of Group 2 action, which all gets underway at 5.15am.
The feature races on the card are race 3, the Group 2 Premier Bowl (Handicap) over 6 furlongs (6.00am), and race 8, the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (Handicap) over the mile (8.55am).
The latter race sees champion Beauty Generation having his second run of the campaign. Being a handicap he has to give away 14lb-20lb to the opposition and ordinarily under those conditions you might look to take on a good horse with a lightly weighted handy type, but he broke the track record on his return under similar conditions and it would be a huge surprise if this incredible horse doesn’t register win 17.
We start with my each-way (EW) play, VICTORIOUS LEADER who runs in the opening race on the card, the Class 5 Piaget Excellent Handicap (5.15am) over 7 furlongs.
The Dennis Yip 5yo hardly comes with a fancy profile having been unplaced all 11 spins to date, but there are several reasons to think he will be highly competitive.
The selection will be having his first run of the campaign, having finished just behind the placing’s when last seen in July over course and distance.
That was his best run to date and given he bubbled the start and got a long way out of his ground early, then met trouble in the straight when winding up, it’s fair to say we can mark the run up.
He drops a further 4lb here, meaning he has plummeted 23lb in the handicap, and from what we saw last time, that puts him on a very attractive mark.
The selection hasn’t had any luck with the barrier draw having drawn double figures on seven of his last nine outings, but he’s drawn in 1 here and although he’s not a speedy customer, I can see Purton riding him closer to the lead as there’s not a great deal of pace in the race.
Purton takes the ride for the first time in over a year and that only installs further confidence given that he was aboard Big Bully (11) when he was two spots in front of the selection last time.
My NAP on the card is CLASSIC UNICORN who runs in race 4, the Franck Muller Handicap (6.45am) over 5 furlongs.
The 4yo from the Chris So yard has recorded two wins from two starts, both coming over course and distance, the last of those being in July.
Last time out the selection led renowned speedster Mutlimillion, which is no mean feat in itself, and despite running along at a belting pace, after dropping Mutlimillion he then found a kick and won by a comfortable margin and in the process ran a time (55.09) approximately 9 lengths quicker than standard for the class.
He goes up 9lb for the win, which seems more than fair all things considered, but he still qualifies for Class 3 company and the bottom line is he looks destined for higher grades than this.
He’s drawn in gate 10 and with high draws favoured on the straight course, he looks locked in to go from the front, and should be able to grab the coveted grandstand rail.
Zac Purton, who rode him first time out but couldn’t take the ride last time due to the light weight, is back on board, and Classic Unicorn should provide the Champion Rider with a winner on a day that potentially could see Purton dominate.
My next best (NB) on the card is GOLDEN SIXTY, who runs in race 9, the Class 2 IWC Excellent Handicap (930am) over 7 furlongs.
This progressive 4yo from the Franci Lui yard has won four of his five starts to date including last time out when first up over 6 furlongs here at Sha Tin.
The performance that day was quite remarkable in that he came from what looked an impossible position at the furlong pole to win running away.
The handicapper hiked him up 9lb for the win which means he steps up to Class 2 level for the first time, however the upside of that is he now goes from the foot of the weights albeit against stronger opposition.
He will meet a couple of similar smart progressive types in the shape of Ho Ho Khan and Fly Thunder, but he’s in receipt 19lb and 18lb respectively of the pair and that’s a hell of a lot of weight to concede to the selection.
He steps up to 7 furlongs and although his only defeat came at this trip that had more to do with immaturity than the trip itself and is a run best forgotten. If anything, Golden Sixty gives the impression he should be even more effective over 7 furlongs and in time over the mile.
The selection is drawn in one and the race maps for him to sit in midfield, maybe slightly worse. But that works well as he has a decent enough pace to aim at, which suits his run style, and provided he has a bit of luck from the low draw, this well-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro should take plenty of holding out off the light weight.
Tim's Best Bets:
5.15am SHA TIN (Race 1)
VICTORIOUS LEADER (EW)
6.45am SHA TIN (Race 4)
CLASSIC UNICORN (NAP)
9.30am SHA TIN (Race 9)
GOLDEN SIXTY (NB)
BETTING ON HONG KONG RACING
Punters can bet into the Hong Kong pools online through Betfred.com .