01/05/2017 4:36PM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong selections and analysis for Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017

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SHA TIN SELECTIONS

(Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017)

RACE 1: #9 Dashing Fortune, #6 Fantasticlife, #5 Power Dragon, #7 Gorgeous Again

RACE 2: #3 Superior Boy, #10 Everest, #8 Daring Heart, #1 Beauty Love

RACE 3: #5 Bad Boy, #4 Amber Sky, #2 Amazing Kids, #1 Peniaphobia

RACE 4: #11 Peace Combination, #3 Flying Godspell, #8 Respect, #7 Helen’s Choice

RACE 5: #2 Super Form, #5 King Bountiful, #4 Ashkiyr, #11 Expectator

RACE 6: #4 Tang Fleming, #6 Top Score, #14 Care Free Prince, #3 Enormous Honour

RACE 7: #4 Generous Heart, #2 Money Boy, #7 Contribution, #3 Lucky Profit

RACE 8: #11 Roundabout, #4 Beauty Kingdom, #2 Winston’s Lad, #10 Desmios

RACE 9: #5 Star Of Yan Oi, #9 Harbour Alert, #1 Convincible, #6 Arizona Blizzard

RACE 10: #10 Winner’s Way, #13 Western Express, #2 Beauty Generation, #1 Simply Invincible

 

RACE 1: FIRE-CRACKER VINE HANDICAP

#9 Dashing Fortune has a poor record over this course and distance but ran well at Happy Valley last time out. Nine of his 11 top-four finishes have been at Sha Tin, albeit over shorter, but he appears near a win and from the inside gate, he should get as soft a run as possible. #6 Fantasticlife has got too far out of his ground from wide gates as his last two and has just finished fairly. He has another good draw again and should run a better race here. #5 Power Dragon has come to life at his last two and looks to be nearing a win down in this class. It remains to be seen if he really wants a mile but he should be in this for a long way. #7 Gorgeous Again has drawn wide but gets Joao Moreira aboard and is another who has been working his way into form.

RACE 2: IRIS HANDICAP

#3 Superior Boy has looked ready to win since his debut, but has yet to get his head in front at the post from 11 starts. However, nine top-four finishes have ensured that his rating has gone up eight points in that time. He usually starts in the market and should do again here, but this looks the ideal race for him to break through with the blinkers removed again. #10 Everest has come to life at his last two, being defeated by a head on both occasions. He is likely to be sent out favourite here and should be coming at them late. #8 Daring Heart was a good debut third in the main lead-up to the Griffin Trophy, and while that Class 4 race does not look particularly strong on paper, this is not a particularly strong race. #1 Beauty Love drops back into Class 4 for the first time since a May victory and gets Joao Moreira aboard, replacing Kei Chiong. He will likely be more competitive here.

RACE 3: G3 BAUHINIA SPRINT TROPHY

A small but highly competitive field has been assembled for one of only two stakes races run over the straight 1000m this season. What is so interesting is that you have the three class runners up the top, old-timer Amber Sky, who may not be what he once was but who looks well suited under handicap conditions, and two very promising sprinters down the bottom. It’s with one of these that we will side in the form of #5 Bad Boy. The Australian import has won three of his eight starts in Hong Kong and has only missed the placings once over this course and distance. He’s run quick times consistently and has done it carrying big weights, too, so getting down to 113 pounds (likely to actually be 115 pounds with Chad Schofield carrying an additional two pounds) should allow him to be seen at his best. He was imperious last time out when leading, but he has won from off the speed too so should be able to track the anticipated leaders in Amber Sky and Adventurer. #4 Amber Sky has very few races available to him these days in Hong Kong, but the 2014 Al Quoz Sprint winner is still competitive in these handicaps with light weights, as seen when he was just edged out by Amazing Kids in the G3 National Day Cup in October. He’s nearing his last hurrah, at least in Hong Kong, but he is coming off a good trial and he will be in this for a long way. #2 Amazing Kids will likely be outpaced early off a hot early tempo, but he picked up well to win the National Day Cup and he’s likely to be finding the line strongly, while #1 Peniaphobia returned to something near his best in the G1 Hong Kong Sprint last time out and there is every chance he will take another step forward here – although he will need to with 133 pounds on his back.

RACE 4: LILY HANDICAP

#11 Peace Combination comes onto the dirt for the first time. He’s not a prolific winner, having only won one of his 24 starts, and he is yet to finish closer than sixth over 1200m. However, he has speed and might be suited getting on to the all-weather track with his early toe. #3 Flying Godspell improved significantly at his second Hong Kong start and his first on the dirt when holding on for second to Elite Spirit. Joao Moreira jumps aboard and he will be in this for a long way. #8 Respect and #7 Helen’s Choice are both consistent types on this surface and both are well-drawn. Expect them both to be in the mix.

RACE 5: HEATHER HANDICAP

#2 Super Form has run four good races at Happy Valley this season, including a 93-1 win in September, but his Sha Tin form is rather poor. However, this is the first time he has had a decent draw at the bigger track in quite some time, and with a soft run here, he should be able to break his Sha Tin hoodoo. #5 King Bountiful has been disappointing since winning three back. Joao Moreira is sticking with him and perhaps he can turn it around here. #4 Ashkiyr is not quite the horse he once was, when he was a stakes placegetter, but all indications are he is nearing a win again. He has drawn poorly but he is likely to go back anyway and he should be coming at them late. Next best, #11 Expectator, who ran a good race at Sha Tin before two OK efforts at his favoured Happy Valley circuit. From the inside gate here, maybe he can break through at Sha Tin.

RACE 6: PEONY HANDICAP

#4 Tang Fleming was a little flat first-up after some nice enough trials. He should improve greatly for the hit-out and has drawn a far kinder gate here in three. Expect him to be in the mix. #6 Top Score has been good enough in two runs to date without setting the world alight. He has drawn out wide in gate 13 but should drift back anyway and is likely to be finding the line strongly. #14 Care Free Prince is racing well but just seems to lack that lethal punch on his current rating. Still, he should go close for Chad Schofield. #3 Enormous Honour finally broke through two back and was fair last time out. The blinkers go on with the return to Sha Tin and don’t be surprised to see him in the mix.

RACE 7: IRIS HANDICAP

#4 Generous Heart has caught the eye in two runs to date, albeit in restricted griffin races that have not looked particularly strong. This will be his toughest test yet but with natural improvement and the switch to Zac Purton, he can figure. #2 Money Boy was good at his first two runs, recording placings, before he broke through in impressive style last time out. He has drawn wide but he looks a type who will be heading up into Class 2 in time, so he’s capable of overcoming the gate. #7 Contribution is bred to get over ground but caught the eye first time out at Happy Valley, making up ground from near the back. The switch to Sha Tin should suit him. His older half-brother #3 Lucky Profit drops back into Class 4, where he is well suited. He may need to get further down in the ratings before his form turns around but don’t be surprised to see him finishing strongly late.

RACE 8: PEONY HANDICAP

This race has #11 Roundabout’s name stamped on it. The son of I Am Invincible won his way back into Class 3 to start the season and has been consistently around the mark in five subsequent runs at both Sha Tin and Happy Valley. The Sha Tin 1400m looks suitable now, he’s drawn a gun gate in two, he gets the services of Joao Moreira and he looks to have struck a race that doesn’t have a great deal of depth. #4 Beauty Kingdom has been very consistent this season without winning. He might be on his mark and he does have a wide gate but he has a significant jockey upgrade to Zac Purton, so he should be competitive. #2 Winston’s Lad has disappointed since beginning his Hong Kong career with two wins. The return to Sha Tin should suit him and he will be around the mark. Next best, #10 Desmios, who might need further than 1400m but has produced two good efforts over the course and distance and this is not particularly strong.

RACE 9: ROSE HANDICAP

#5 Star Of Yan Oi has been a revelation at his two runs on the dirt, charging home both times and just failing by a short head on both occasions. The flashy chestnut looks perfectly placed to break his Hong Kong maiden here. #9 Harbour Alert has been slightly disappointing since switching to the surface, despite placing at three of his four runs. He looked a horse in need of the dirt but now just looks a horse with plenty of ability who doesn’t want to win. Still, with the inside gate, he must be included again. #1 Convincible has been good at his last two runs and appears to be coming to hand quickly. He has worked well on dirt and should take to the surface. #6 Arizona Blizzard had been looking a morning glory before breaking through last time out. However, gate 12 makes it tricky for him as he looks to go back-to-back.

RACE 10: VIOLET HANDICAP

As is the case for most of these Class 2 races at this time of year, this race is expected to have a significant impact on the path to the four-year-old classics, which begins with the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) in two weeks. Five of these are eligible for the Classic Mile, including most of the likely favourites. #10 Winner’s Way was tenacious in defeating Beat The Clock last time out, especially conceding 15 pounds. He has a good turn of foot and should be suited, so expect him to lock in a Classic Mile berth through a strong effort here. #13 Western Express was very good at his first start in Class 3, scoring impressively, but last time out he struck a slowly run race and was not knocked around late behind Eagle Way. He will be an improver here. #2 Beauty Generation looked every bit a Derby horse at his first Hong Kong run behind My Darling. He might need this run, but everything he has shown so far suggests he will be a force in the Four-Year-Old Series. Of those outside the classic crop, #1 Simply Invincible has been in good form this season and his fourth to Blizzard on international day was good enough to win this.