01/19/2017 10:00AM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong selections and analysis for Sunday, January 22, 2017


(Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017)

RACE 1: #10 Vital Spring, #1 Healthy Luck, #8 Merrygowin, #2 Grace Heart
RACE 2: #4 Rattan, #1 Right Call, #6 Namjong Invincible, #12 Carry To Win
RACE 3: #2 Supernatural, #3 Plain Blue Banner, #11 Spicy Double, #7 O’Socoole
RACE 4: #2 Excel Oneself, #7 Nothingilikemore, #3 High Volatility, #4 Hot Hot Pepper
RACE 5: #2 Amazing Moment, #1 Penang Hall, 11 Contribution, #3 Bold Stitch
RACE 6: #14 Ace King, #6 Super Wise, #2 Beauty Master, #12 Mordicus
RACE 7: #14 Dinozzo, #7 Packing Dragon, #5 Renaissance Art, #11 Sergeant Titanium
RACE 8: #7 D B Pin, #11 Water Diviner, #1 Merion, #2 Clever Beaver
RACE 9: #1 Rapper Dragon, #2 Beauty Generation, #13 Seasons Bloom, #11 Western Express
RACE 10: #1 Time Warp, #3 Super Turbo, #2 Jolly Jolly, #6 Pikachu


Half of the 14 runners make their debut here, so it might pay to watch moves on the tote board. #10 Vital Spring has trialled well and he looks fairly professional for an unraced commodity. He debuts for leading duo Joao Moreira and John Size, albeit from the dreaded inside gate down the straight. Still, he can win at his first time of asking. #1 Healthy Luck looked a nice horse in the making with his debut win, beating Peace Combination. He looks to have more upside, although he does have to shoulder 133 pounds here. #8 Merrygowin is another who has trialled well and gets the services of Zac Purton. He should be one who comes to hand quickly #2 Grace Heart has not won in almost 18 months. He returns to the Sha Tin straight track, where he won on debut in 2014, and despite not showing much recently, he is one that creates interest.


Second-starter #4 Rattan creates interest here in a race that doesn’t look overly strong. The son of Savabeel ran home strongly first time out from a long way back, getting into seventh late, and showed promise. He will want further in time but he can produce enough here to score. #1 Right Call’s record in Class 4 over this trip is solid. He’s a pretty straightforward, jump and run type and the booking of Joao Moreira to replace Kei Chiong is a positive. He’s not one to back if he’s too short, though. #6 Namjong Invincible has been off the scene since two disappointing runs in October and November. He looked quite progressive last season and with Zac Purton reuniting with the four-year-old, he should be well-primed here. Next best, #12 Carry To Win, who is coming off an 11-length fourth behind Pakistan Star when hopelessly treated at the handicaps. He might need the drop to Class 5 and he is the first mount of Umberto Rispoli since early November, but he is still some hope.


#2 Supernatural has his first start in Class 5 here. He is quite a one-paced type, hence why he was stepped up in trip, but his best form has been over a mile. The step back to 1400m may not suit but he does get blinkers on and a good gate, so if he can jump with them and put himself in a position, he will be hard to beat. #3 Plain Blue Banner is a consistent type at the top of Class 5. He gets Joao Moreira aboard and that might produce the extra length that will get him into Class 4. #11 Spicy Double has drawn well and gets the blinkers reapplied with Silvestre de Sousa taking over for Moreira. He’s a bit quirky but he should run a good race. #7 O’Socoole is nearing a winning mark but he has drawn awkwardly here. Still, he is worth including.


#2 Excel Oneself is a Class 3 mainstay of recent seasons who finds himself back in Class 4 again. He dropped in grade for his last start at Happy Valley, where – despite stepping up to an unsuitable 1650m from the outside gate – he finished fourth, beaten just a neck. He now returns to Sha Tin, where his record is not as strong as at the city track, but he’s drawn well with Chad Schofield aboard and he can get his first win at the bigger circuit. #7 Nothingilikemore debuts for John Size, with visiting English rider Ryan Moore taking the mount. He’s looked a horse with potential in the mornings and this race looks like it will set up perfectly for him. It wouldn’t surprise to see him debut with a win. #3 High Volatility gets Joao Moreira aboard and blinkers on from the inside gate but he’s not the most reliable horse, while #4 Hot Hot Pepper is consistent but is yet to win in Hong Kong. He’s likely to run another bold race here without winning.


The withdrawal of Infinity Endeavour changes the complexion of this race and it now appears a more competitive affair. #2 Amazing Moment should get a good run here just in behind the speed and after running home nicely over the 1000m, he should be suited with the step up in trip. In an open race, he looks as good a chance as any. #1 Penang Hall takes the drop in class and steps up to 1400m for the first time. He has failed to deliver on some early promise but the drop back in trip should suit him and he can bob up here. #11 Contribution is still learning what the game is all about but he has shown some good signs in his first two starts. If he can progress on what he has done so far, he’ll be winning soon. #3 Bold Stitch was just beaten narrowly off this mark in February and Nash Rawiller appears a positive booking. Include him in exotics.


#14 Ace King returns to the course and distance of two wins this season. He won for senior jockeys Sam Clipperton and Nash Rawiller by big margins in Class 5 and Class 4 respectively by jumping out and making most of the running, but his other two starts down the straight this term, he was ridden by Kei Chiong and he missed the start on both occasions, settling near the rear. With another senior rider aboard in Karis Teetan, look for him to jump and lead from the favourable outside stall and with the minimum weight of 113 pounds on his back, he should prove hard to beat. #6 Super Wise is the likely favourite after his second to D B Pin last time out. There’s no horse of that calibre here and natural improvement will make him the logical choice. #2 Beauty Master has had a slight freshen-up since his last run, also behind D B Pin. His form has been solid down the straight and he can run another bold race. #12 Mordicus has appeared to be a morning glory so far, showing nothing in two starts to date after trialling well. Perhaps a return to the straight will suit, but he’s quickly running out of chances.


Promising galloper #14 Dinozzo was beaten last time but showed he’s more than capable in this sort of company, particularly with a feather weight on his back. He has drawn wide but there’s a half-mile run to the first bend from the 1800m start, so it shouldn’t affect him too much. He can continue his progression towards a potential Derby start here. #7 Packing Dragon was a whopping nine pounds out of the handicap in the G3 January Cup (1800m) at Happy Valley last time out, and was hardly disgraced, just being grabbed late to finish third. He meets a number of these better at the weights and should be very hard to beat. #5 Renaissance Art finally returned to form in the January Cup with a fast-finishing fifth. He might just be better at Happy Valley these days but on that run he’s worth throwing in. Dinozzo’s stablemate #11 Sergeant Titanium has been slowly dropping through the ratings but he’s drawn well and this looks as suitable a set-up as any race he’s contested this season.


#7 D B Pin has been undefeated this season, even winning a race that was later declared void in October. He’s won his three starts since impressively, prompting jockey Karis Teetan – who rode him in the second of those wins – to declare him potentially top class. He looks well suited in this race and there’s no reason to think the 1200m won’t suit him, especially from a good draw. He should win again. #11 Water Diviner was extremely impressive in a strong race on international day, coming from near last to score. He has since trialled poorly and he is again drawn wide, but a repeat of either of his first two efforts will have him in the mix. #1 Merion has an ambitious entry for Monday week’s G2 Centenary Sprint Cup, where he’d take on the likes of Aerovelocity, Lucky Bubbles, Amazing Kids and Peniaphobia at set weights. He is yet to win in Hong Kong, although his rating has risen four points across his 12 starts, and a victory here could encourage his connections to chase the big carrot at the Chinese New Year meeting. He’s some chance. #2 Clever Beaver has been one of the more consistent gallopers of the past two seasons. While he looks to be on his mark, he gets Joao Moreira aboard from a good gate and he cannot be dismissed.


A terrific line-up has assembled here for the first of the classics. In Hong Kong, the classic races are for four-year-olds from both hemispheres, as most horses race later or are acquired after they run in classics abroad. That makes this race Hong Kong’s equivalent of a Guineas abroad, or perhaps one of the Derbies on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Beauty Generation has done enough so far to suggest he’ll be the star of the crop, but in this race, top-rated #1 Rapper Dragon can get the better of him. He has had an injury-interrupted campaign so far and has only raced once, performing well when clearly not fit in the Class 1 over 1400m on international day. The form from that race has been franked and he has done more in Hong Kong than any of his rivals and if he is going to win any of the classics, this looks the one. #2 Beauty Generation looked to have plenty of upside in Australia when named Montaigne, and he hasn’t disgraced since his arrival in Hong Kong. He is just going to keep improving and he will probably end up being similar to recent Derby winners like Designs On Rome and Werther – running a good race in the Classic Mile but really coming into his own in the next two legs of the Four-Year-Old Series, the Classic Cup and the Derby. It’s extremely competitive behind them, with the likes of G1 winners Eagle Way and Helene Charisma as well as internet sensation Pakistan Star, but two lightly-raced types, both with a strong turn of foot, can find their way into the placings. #13 Seasons Bloom has really caught the eye at each of his three Hong Kong runs, winning twice. This is by far the toughest race he’s contested, stepping up from Class 3, but he looks capable of figuring. #11 Western Express also looks capable of stepping forward after making a strong bid from near the rear last time out. He meets Beauty Generation 12 pounds worse after being beaten a neck, but he can fight for a minor placing.


#1 Time Warp makes his Hong Kong debut here for Tony Cruz, having raced nine times in Great Britain and France pre-import – eight of his starts as a two-year-old. He looked rather exposed, but half the battle is acclimatisation for these imports and he looks to have settled in very well to Hong Kong. He’s won two of his four trials and finished behind Wednesday night’s winners California Whip and Eroico the other two. He faces a task fresh with 133 pounds on his back but a win here could see him enter the frame for the Hong Kong Classic Cup. #3 Super Turbo makes his maiden raceday appearance at Sha Tin after seven starts at Happy Valley. He has got a short, sharp sprint on him and has always looked like he’d be suited to the Sha Tin 1400m, so he must be included, especially from a good gate. #2 Jolly Jolly can go forward and make his own luck and the form out of his last win has stood up, so he deserves consideration, while #6 Pikachu appears to be on the cusp of another victory, although his last couple of runs, he has disappointed. It’s a race of many chances though and it doesn’t end there, although it may pay to oppose House Of Fun after he received a 14-point hike for his big-margin win last time out.