09/08/2016 9:23AM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong selections and analysis: Sept. 11, 2016



(Sunday September 11, 2016)

RACE 1: #5 Sea Warrior, #14 Noble Buddies, #11 Perfect Smart, #6 Ace King
RACE 2: #10 Unique Awesome, #1 Fairy Twins, #11 Ruminare, #9 Clever Spirit
RACE 3: #13 Snowhooves, #11 Fantasticlife, #5 Good Method, #1 Good For You
RACE 4: #11 Respect, #9 Smiling Glory, #2 Lansbury, #7 Winning Vibe
RACE 5: #10 Packing Starcraft, #2 Magnetism, #7 London City, #14 Rewarding Flyer
RACE 6: #11 Lotus Breeze, #5 Regency Darling, #8 Golden Deer, #3 Chevalier Star
RACE 7: #1 Gold Dragon, #10 Red Peony, #3 Able Deed, #7 Aztec Empire
RACE 8: #10 Tianhuang, #6 Diamond Master, #7 Elite Spirit, #5 Mint Master
RACE 9: #5 Joyful Trinity, #3 Romantic Touch, #4 Born In China, #8 Jun Huo
RACE 10: #10 California Joy, #11 Club Life, #5 Industrialist Way, #8 Unique Joyous


#5 Sea Warrior is one horse who has run well over this course before in higher grades. He has drawn the outside gate, a plus over the course, and with a little luck he will be hard to hold out. #14 Noble Buddies has transferred from John Moore to Almond Lee, but his best efforts have been over this course. #11 Perfect Smart is a speedy customer who should be able to cross and sit outside the leader, if not taking the lead himself. #6 Ace King has been tried over further, but two of his best runs have been over this trip and he has a gate that should allow him to get a perfect box-seat run down the grandstand rail.


#10 Unique Awesome has plenty of talent, but he also has plenty of issues, injuries and quirks that have hindered his career to date. He drops to this trip for the first time, but a solidly run race may not be a bad thing for him as he does have a top last sectional. #1 Fairy Twins performed right off the bat in Hong Kong, and he still looked to have plenty of improvement in him at the end of last season. #11 Ruminare is the likely leader who has been a little weak at the end of his races. The booking of Joao Moreira is a positive, though. #9 Clever Spirit was fairly good at the start of his campaign last season off a higher rating and looks well placed here after a solid trial.


#13 Snowhooves ran strongly for new trainer Derek Cruz last weekend. He has the same weight, same jockey in Jack Wong, even the same gate, but with the run under his belt he will be hard to beat. #11 Fantasticlife looks one of the more intriguing runners on the card, having been with former trainer Sean Woods. Now in the hands of Caspar Fownes, who prepared a treble on Wednesday night, he looks primed for this off an impressive trial effort. #5 Good Method raised the ire of players last year as he failed to win, despite starting under 7-2 ($4.50) at his last seven starts, but in-form Nash Rawiller looks an ideal booking from the inside gate. #1 Good For You looks the logical favourite for trainer Me Tsui, who has begun the season very strongly, with jockey Joao Moreira the finishing touch. However, he has drawn poorly in gate 14 and will likely end up in an awkward position.


The first race for the season on the Sha Tin all-weather track - which, despite its name, is actually a dirt surface, with a similar composition to a track like Santa Anita. #11 Respect was consistent in the latter part of last season, winning once and placing four times. He looks well from the training track. #9 Smiling Glory makes his debut on dirt after disappointing as favourite on turf last weekend. He won a trial on dirt in nice style and bears close watching. #2 Lansbury's campaign last season was restricted to two runs due to injury, but both efforts were good and he looks on track to score soon. #7 Winning Vibe started a heavy favourite at his last four starts and he was good without winning. He's a chance but not sure dirt is his surface.


#5 Packing Starcraft had "next season horse" stamped all over him in two runs last season. We might be a few months away from seeing the best of him, but he will be winning his way out of Class 4 very early in the season. #2 Magnetism finally got the drop in class at his last run of last season and was luckless, strung up behind runners while the winner sprinted away. A repeat will see him hard to beat. #7 London City is a speedy type who gets the services of in-form Jack Wong from the inside gate. He will take up the running and should get his own way. Next best is #14 Rewarding Flyer, who has dropped a long way in the ratings and looks to be nearing a win.


A big factor in a number of these early season meetings is those horses that have had a run already, with the fitness edge on their side. With that in mind, #11 Lotus Breeze should be hard to hold out here. He was good enough when fifth to Multimax last week in a pace-dominated race and that effort should be good enough to score, although he may also be one to follow once he gets the drop in class shortly. #5 Regency Darling is a pace factor from the inside gate with Kei Chiong aboard. His best efforts have come when he has been allowed to dictate in front, very possible here. #8 Golden Deer's recent form has been poor, but on his day he is very talented and he did win off a higher rating two seasons ago. #3 Chevalier Star has problems at the start, a nightmare for a frontrunner, but if he jumps with them he is some sort of chance.


#1 Gold Dragon opens the season again in Class 4, a grade in which he won twice and placed once from four runs last season. The return to turf is a positive and he maps to get a good run. #10 Red Peony shocked at 66-1 last weekend. He rises in class for this but also drops 14 pounds in weight and with a win under his belt and a fitness edge, he's right in the mix. #3 Able Deed was still putting it all together last season. If he's made some mental improvement during the off-season, he's capable of winning off this mark. #7 Aztec Empire looks one of the only speed influences in a race devoid of pace, and if he gets his own way, he could stick on.


A race that looks to have plenty of speed, which should prove a positive for #2 Tianhuang. He's not a smooth horse to watch - he usually needs to be ridden along for much of the race - but there's no doubt the talent is there if he can put it all together. If the expected speed battle doesn't eventuate, keep an eye out for #6 Diamond Master. He is a horse who can't be held up, who needs to be allowed to run along in front, and he should be suited to the dirt if these tactics are employed - his one previous try, he was taken back. #7 Elite Spirit will be amongst the ruck but has a liking for this surface and did run last week, albeit poorly, while #5 Mint Master is another who should be watched closely on this surface.


#5 Joyful Trinity looks the most progressive horse in this race. He was impressive in two wins near the tail of last season, and he looks to still have upside in him. #3 Romantic Touch is a resolute galloper - he has had two very thorough campaigns in Hong Kong and fronts up once again. He may want slightly further but fresh over this trip and with his natural speed he can be right in this. #4 Born In China runs once again after finishing sixth to Lucky Year in last week's feature. He steps up in trip for the first time since his Hong Kong debut, but he has been looking in need of extra ground recently and did win over a mile at Royal Ascot in 2014. #8 Jun Huo runs for the same connections as Born In China, but he looks to get the perfect run in transit and the step back in trip fresh should not be a concern.


#10 California Joy is a potential Hong Kong Derby contender in the making. The well-bred son of Fastnet Rock was a model of consistency at the end of last season and with a little maturity under his belt, looks well-placed to continue his rise up the ratings. #11 Club Life is hard to run down on speed and looks on paper to have the tempo in his hands. #5 Industrialist Way has proven in the past that he is good fresh and actually won the same race last year off the same rating. It looks to be a similar setup again for him this year. #8 Unique Joyous has won his last four, but it is extremely rare to win five in a row under the Hong Kong handicap system and the switch from Joao Moreira to Kei Chiong looks a major negative for this idiosyncratic galloper.