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Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong selections and analysis: Oct. 1, 2016
SHA TIN SELECTIONS
(Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016)
RACE 1: #1 Atomic Blast, #4 Brilliant Monkeys, #12 Fantasticlife, #2 Good Method
RACE 2: #1 Unique Happiest, #2 Electronic Phoenix, #5 Aztec Empire, #9 Mistral
RACE 3: #5 Go Beauty Go, #4 Dragon Warrior, #12 Cool And Neat. #1 High Volatility
RACE 4: #1 Marvel Hero, #5 California Joy, #6 Winnam, #3 Beauty Prince
RACE 5: #13 Winning Boy, #12 Ruminare, #14 Seasons King, #8 Sea Jade
RACE 6: #4 Call Me Awesome, #5 Iron Boy, #12 Carefree Let Go, #1 Gorgeous King
RACE 7: #8 Travel Datuk, #13 Bullish Smart, #11 Midnight Rattler, #3 Tonyboy
RACE 8: #2 Not Listenin'tome, #5 Amber Sky, #3 Amazing Kids, #1 Peniaphobia
RACE 9: #5 Wushu Champion, #10 Dr Listening, #14 Bold Stitch, #12 Power Of One
RACE 10: #2 Beauty Only, #11 Joyful Trinity, #1 Contentment, #3 Helene Paragon
RACE 11: #2 Line Seeker, #3 Mr Bogart, #5 Eroico, #6 Almababy
RACE 1: XIAN HANDICAP
#1 Atomic Blast has talent but he has been injury-prone and has also been somewhat quirky. He has his first run down in Class 5 for new trainer Tony Millard, his third handler at just his eighth start. Still, he has shown glimpses of ability so he looks well placed here. #4 Brilliant Monkeys ran a game fourth to kick off his season on opening day. He should get a perfect run here and looks the one to beat. #12 Fantasticlife made up plenty of ground fresh in a race where that task was tough. Caspar Fownes is still learning about the recent addition to his stable but he looks set to break through shortly. #2 Good Method is likely to be the favourite but has thrown away certain victory on a number of occasions and he is the type of galloper always worth taking on, particularly from an awkward gate.
RACE 2: SHENYANG HANDICAP
A tactical race from the 1800m with nothing standing out as a strong leader, although Po Ching Treasure has adopted that role before. #1 Unique Happiest is consistent and gets in well with Kei Chiong's claim. Chiong should be able to take advantage of the potential lack of speed and inject some herself if need be. If there was pace on here, #2 Electronic Phoenix would be one of the better bets on the card. A solid yet even tempo is what suits him best, and there's no doubt after his seasonal return that he's ready to break through. #5 Aztec Empire mixes his form but he puts himself into his races, a huge asset if this does become tactical. If there is one who could improve drastically, it is #9 Mistral. He is near a drop into Class 5, but he has simply been outpaced in three starts to date over 1200m. He produced his best performance yet last weekend, although still last. The six-day back-up with a dramatic step up to 1800m looks a formula for improvement.
RACE 3: NANJING HANDICAP
A race with two debutants, one horse having his second start and five horses having their third start from 14 runners, so perhaps expect the unexpected. #5 Go Beauty Go's first run wasn't too bad when he was stranded in the worst ground down the straight. The step up to 1400m should suit this galloper, a brother to top New Zealand miler and stallion Alamosa, while he also looks to have strengthened up in the break. He should get the perfect run and prove hard to hold out. Highly touted first starter #4 Dragon Warrior gets Joao Moreira aboard for his debut. He has had a thorough grounding, including five trials since April, so expect him to be wound up for this. He looks a straightforward type from his trials so a professional showing is on the cards. Of those with more experience, #12 Cool And Neat is one to watch getting the blinkers for the first time, while #1 High Volatility looks near a mark where he can do some damage.
RACE 4: CHONGQING HANDICAP
#1 Marvel Hero began his season with an excellent second to excitement machine Pakistan Star. The step up to a mile looks suitable and while carrying 133 pounds isn't ideal for the pint-sized four-year-old, he looks to be bound for Class 2 this preparation. Derby aspirant #5 California Joy will be the favourite here, but needs to go to a new level after he only just fell in to win first-up. Perhaps he'd be better suited to more quiet riding tactics, although that won't be ideal in this spot. What you see is what you get with #6 Winnam, but he is at a place in the ratings where he can probably sneak another, while #3 Beauty Prince deserves consideration off a first-up victory.
RACE 5: CHENGDU HANDICAP
A race where most of the action is happening down in the weights. #13 Winning Boy got a pass mark for his first-up effort when a distant second to debutant Jing Jing Win. Richard Gibson looks to have his recent acquisition going well and he has found a good spot here. #12 Ruminare is a speedy customer but doesn't look to have a great deal of heart, nor does he know how to attack the line yet. He will lead here, but it might take a bit of Joao Moreira magic to get him home. #14 Seasons King produced a strong performance to break through in the first race of the season. He drops 12 pounds, but the gate all but ensures he'll have to go back towards the tail of the field. Next best, #8 Sea Jade, who comes from last season's griffin crop. It is his first test against the older horses and while he looks a nice horse in the making, he isn't quite there yet.
RACE 6: SHANGHAI HANDICAP
#4 Call Me Awesome was at triple-figure odds at his Hong Kong debut but made ground nicely to finish fifth in June. He has since led in a barrier trial and won with ease, so the tactics remain to be seen here, but either way, expect him to be in the mix at the finish. #5 Iron Boy is racing very honestly currently and looked set to win last start before being run over late by Green Card. Joao Moreira jumps on the enigmatic galloper for the first time and he should get the run of the race. #12 Carefree Let Go is hit and miss but is drawn to get an ideal run and gets in with only 112 pounds. Former Coolmore galloper #1 Gorgeous King found form at his first run in Class 3 and, while he needs to prove it wasn't a fluke, he is capable on his day.
RACE 7: BEIJING HANDICAP
An extremely open Class 2, with more than half the field legitimate contenders. #8 Travel Datuk performed well at his first Hong Kong run at Happy Valley. With the summer to acclimatise and strengthen up, the Irish three-year-old is poised to break through for his first local victory. #13 Bullish Smart is probably better over the extended mile at Happy Valley, but a solid 1200m is fine and as long as he jumps, he'll be in the box seat. #11 Midnight Rattler has been somewhat disappointing up in Class 2 but gets one more chance as the mount of Joao Moreira. #3 Tonyboy might be approaching his mark but he turned his consistency into three consecutive wins last season. He has drawn an ideal gate and should be in the mix for a long way.
RACE 8: THE NATIONAL DAY CUP (G3)
A small field for the first stakes race of the Hong Kong season, but a very competitive contest down the straight. #2 Not Listenin'tome made the straight track his home last season, winning at his only three runs over the course and distance. That included this race last year when down in the weights, as well as his last two in impressive style with 133 pounds. He gets down to 130 pounds here, but should be able to track the speed and will be very hard to beat. #5 Amber Sky is a shadow of the galloper he once was, but the 2014 Al Quoz Sprint winner is always a chance over this course and distance due to his sheer speed. He will be out in front with only 113 pounds on his back and he is one to keep safe. Of this bunch, the two horses most likely to make a splash on the international stage in December are #3 Amazing Kids and #1 Peniaphobia, but both are likely in need of the run and with bigger targets awaiting them, it may pay to watch them here.
RACE 9: TIANJIN HANDICAP
#5 Wushu Champion is one of the most interesting runners on the card. The flashy son of Starcraft has only had the one Hong Kong start where he was fairly plain. However, he is stripped of the blinkers and crossover nose band, he steps up to 1200m and he has caught the eye in his trials. Trainer Richard Gibson has high hopes that this horse might be one of his stable's banner horses. #10 Dr Listening looks in need of the run but he did impress with two late-season wins and he is a horse bound for better races. Keep #14 Bold Stitch safe at his first run up in class. He has only carried less than 121 pounds once for a narrow defeat, and he should get the perfect trail just off the speed. Next best #12 Power Of One, who should be improved with a summer break under his belt.
RACE 10: THE CELEBRATION CUP (G3)
A key starting point for a number of local horses targeting the Hong Kong Mile and the Hong Kong Cup in December. #2 Beauty Only can be hard to catch, but after being tried as a middle-distance galloper early last season, he is set to be aimed at races up to a mile this time around. This appears more suitable, especially fresh over the 1400m. #11 Joyful Trinity is the type of horse who always seems to run well in this race, a horse on the way up getting in with only 113 pounds. He arguably should have won fresh when beaten a nose by 267-1 shot Twin Delight and looks poised to stake his claim for an international berth. #1 Contentment won this race last year carrying only 115 pounds. He carries 133 pounds this time but the 1400m looks his best distance and he seems to race well fresh. Next best #3 Helene Paragon, who is likely to come on for the run but looks a prime Hong Kong Mile contender.
RACE 11: BEIJING HANDICAP
The perfect season of #2 Line Seeker last term was brought to a halt when he finished tailed-off at Happy Valley in April. He has had a plethora of issues, but a recent 10-length barrier trial victory under double wraps suggests that he is back to his best and can run a race here. #3 Mr Bogart is on the way up and looks to have more in store. A return to Sha Tin is a positive for him and he can continue his rise through the ranks. #5 Eroico is consistent, although he has not won in more than 18 months. He gets the services of Joao Moreira and while he may need a run, he's a must include in exotics. Keep an eye on #6 Almababy, who should get the perfect trail in the box seat. He was stuck wide first-up and battled away resolutely, so with a softer run behind a strong tempo here, he could get the run of the race.