03/02/2017 11:49AM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong Selections and analysis for Sunday, March 5, 2017

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SHA TIN SELECTIONS
(Sunday March 5, 2016)

RACE 1: #1 Easy Touch, #3 Sharpmind, #5 Young Empire, #7 Clever Spirit
RACE 2: #1 Dashing Dart, #2 Red Horse, #3 Polymer Luck, #11 My Folks
RACE 3: #5 Mr Stunning, #3 Amber Sky, #4 Bad Boy, #6 My Little Friend
RACE 4: #2 Five Stars Agent, #9 Laughing Lord, #11 Bernard's Choice, #6 Shining Champion
RACE 5: #7 Everest, #4 Fantastic Eight, #11 Ray Of Gold, #10 Bossiee
RACE 6: #4 Planet Star, #12 Wingold, #7 Ambitious Heart, #2 Bold Stitch
RACE 7: #7 Jolly Banner, #5 Racing Supernova, #6 Invincible Dragon, #8 Simply Invincible
RACE 8: #8 Packing Stones, #5 Beat The Clock, #7 Water Diviner, #2 Healthy Joyful
RACE 9: #3 Convincible, #5 Beauty Kingdom, #2 Volitation, #1 Fantastic Kaka
RACE 10: #1 Land Grant, #2 Mighty Maverick, #6 Chevalier Star, #8 Daring Fit
RACE 11: #9 Circuit Hassler, #4 Limitless, #10 Prawn Baba, #14 Who Dat Singa

RACE 1: GUIA HILL HANDICAP

#1 Easy Touch set a brisk pace last week before folding under Dylan Mo. The switch to Joao Moreira is a strong pointer and from the inside gate, he should be able to jump, lead and prove too strong late. Debutant #3 Sharpmind has had five trials for this, dating back to May last year. He looks a straightforward commodity and a positive first showing is expected under Zac Purton. #5 Young Empire was well-backed to improve at Happy Valley last time out and did so, clocking in fourth and looking on the cusp of finding the winners’ circle. He does have an awkward draw, though. #7 Clever Spirit has been running solid races of late without winning. He is drawn well and should get an ideal run this time, so expect him to be competitive.

RACE 2: LOTUS BRIDGE HANDICAP

#1 Dashing Dart appeared to be on the cusp of breaking through at the bottom of Class 4 before a disappointing effort last time out. He drops in grade and gets Joao Moreira for his first run down in Class 5. This field looks weak even by Class 5 standards, so he looks a prime candidate to get his first Hong Kong win. #2 Red Horse turned his form around significantly to win last time out. He only has three pounds more to carry and does get the services of Sam Clipperton from a middle draw. #3 Polymer Luck’s two runs in Class 5 earlier this season were very good and he should be a danger back in the cellar grade. Gate 13 will make it tough, though. #11 My Folks has severely mixed his form this time in, and last start dumped rider Douglas Whyte at the start. He is capable on his day, though.

RACE 3: FRIENDSHIP BRIDGE HANDICAP

This race features two quality sprinters in Peniaphobia and Not Listenin’tome, however it might pay to take them on with their four rivals all getting significant weight breaks. #5 Mr Stunning has been touted as a potential graduate to the highest ranks of Hong Kong sprinters ever since his debut win at Happy Valley in February last year. He has still been learning what the caper is about as he has progressed this season, but with only 113 pounds on his back here, he looks more than capable of toppling the big guns. 2014 Al Quoz Sprint winner #3 Amber Sky is sure to have plenty of support here. The 1000m specialist has plenty of speed and is an easy ride for 10-pound claimer Dylan Mo, so with only 104 pounds on his back (taking the claim into account), he will be difficult to pass. #4 Bad Boy disappointed as even-money favourite against many of these last time out after looking so impressive the start before. He’s had a two-month layoff and if he returns to his best, he will be around the mark. #6 My Little Friend looks hopelessly outclassed at the weights, finding himself 13 points outside of the handicaps. He was five lengths from Mr Stunning last time out at set weights, and while the margin may be the same again, he can show enough with the feather weight to get past Peniaphobia and Not Listenin’tome. He’s one to include in quinellas.

RACE 4: SAI VAN BRIDGE HANDICAP

#2 Five Stars Agent, a son of 2007 Hong Kong Derby placegetter Champions Gallery, was a rare stable transfer to John Size at the start of this season. He has shown improvement since the switch, and his last three efforts have been good enough for him to win now he is in Class 5. He’s a leading player. #9 Laughing Lord has raced well at his last two starts and from the inside gate, he should get a soft run in transit. At this level, that can make all the difference. The 10-year-old mare #11 Bernard's Choice is nearing compulsory retirement, but she looks to have one more win left in her before she heads to the breading barn. #6 Shining Champion flashed home back down in Class 5 last time out at Happy Valley. He is equally as effective at Sha Tin and should be coming at them late.

RACE 5: GUIA HILL HANDICAP

#7 Everest disappointed last time out stepping up to the Happy Valley 1650m but the return to Sha Tin looks a plus. He could find the 1200m too sharp, but if things fall into place, he should be going very close. #4 Fantastic Eight looks the most likely of the three debutants to show up at his first start. Gate 12 is a little sticky but he should press forward and find himself in this race for a long way. #11 Ray Of Gold has had many problems over a number of seasons, but the talent is there and he’s been performing to a consistently high standard as of late. Expect another bold run again. #10 Bossiee has now passed the two-year mark since his last win, but he has been improving of late and looks capable of breaking through before he drops down to Class 5.

RACE 6: MACAU-TAIPA BRIDGE HANDICAP

#4 Planet Star did enough on debut when racing wide to suggest that he had ability, something he franked when he ran third under Zac Purton last start. The step up to 1400m looks a positive and from the good draw, he appears the hardest to beat. #12 Wingold is honest enough and he should be suited by drawing the inside with Sam Clipperton to ride, although he may also be looking for the drop in grade. #7 Ambitious Heart has been running consistently well enough this season without winning. In a race that appears to lack depth, he has a chance yet again. #2 Bold Stitch improved with Kei Chiong aboard last time out to finish fourth. Expect her to push the gelding towards the front yet again and he should be around the mark.

RACE 7: THE HONG KONG MACAU TROPHY

This annual clash of gallopers from Hong Kong and Macau is run as a Class 1 for the first time this year, having previously been a Hong Kong Group 3. However, the Macau gallopers generally make up the numbers, and this year’s crop don’t look capable of beating the home team. #7 Jolly Banner lumped top weight to a narrow defeat last time out after winning his three starts before that and looking a very nice horse in the process. He meets Invincible Dragon, who beat him by a short head that day, nine pounds better at the weights. He can continue his progression with victory here. #5 Racing Supernova has had circumstances against him at his last three since winning the Panasonic Cup over this course and distance in November. The inside draw doesn’t look ideal, but there does appear a fair bit of speed in the race so expect him to be finding the line well under Joao Moreira. #6 Invincible Dragon couldn’t match the late surge of Gold Mount last time out after two strong wins over this course and distance. He appears a good yardstick and should be around the mark again. #8 Simply Invincible has surprised slightly with his progression this season, but on his best, he’d be more than competitive here.

RACE 8: COLOANE HANDICAP

#8 Packing Stones arrives as the winner of two juvenile races at York and Newmarket from three starts. He was highly rated in the UK, some even suggesting he was 2,000 Guineas material, and he has caught the eye from the training track. Although Private Purchase debutant winners have already far outstripped their usual quota for each season, with six already winning at the first time of asking this season, Packing Stones gives every indication he can join them. #5 Beat The Clock drops to 1200m for the first time after six starts at 1400m yielded two wide-margin wins and four placings. He is an exciting horse who has to deal with a wide gate, but he will likely start a heavy favourite here and deservedly so. #7 Water Diviner disappointed last time out after he won twice to start his Hong Kong career. However, those positioned handy dominated the race, and he made very nice ground in a race where few came from the back. He deserves another chance. #2 Healthy Joyful has run well at his last two starts without troubling the judge. Zac Purton jumps aboard and he can perform strongly again.

RACE 9: THE ASSOCIATION OF HONG KONG RACING JOURNALISTS CHALLENGE CUP

#3 Convincible has come to hand fairly quickly, posting two placings at starts three and four before a couple of average efforts at his last two. However, last time out, he still made ground late, even though he finished eighth. If he can be held up for just a little longer, he will be in the mix with the right run. #5 Beauty Kingdom is a very honest conveyance, having missed the top five only once in his last 13 starts despite only one win in that time. He might be on his mark, but with his honesty, he’s one who must be included, particularly drawing a good gate for the first time in a while. #2 Volitation has won three of his last four for John Size. He is reaching a point where his rating might be overstepping his progression, but he’s some chance again – although it wouldn’t surprise if his rating continues to climb next season. #1 Fantastic Kaka’s rating has dropped 15 points from its peak. He has a bad draw here but gets a positive jockey upgrade to Neil Callan and has the ability to improve.

RACE 10: MACAU HANDICAP

#1 Land Grant has been out of sorts since winning in March last year, his final run of last season. This is the first time that he’s drawn a good gate in some time and the return to the Sha Tin 1400m looks a positive. Expect improvement from him. #2 Mighty Maverick is expected to have support with Joao Moreira jumping aboard. From a good gate, he should jump out and sit just behind the speed. He should have every chance. #6 Chevalier Star is a leader, but he also has problems out of the gates which have hindered his progress. He has been racing like he needs the 1400m, and with Zac Purton jumping aboard, expect him to be in the mix. #8 Daring Fit is another who will push forward, but he has to deal with the outside gate here. Add in that Hong Kong’s handicap system makes it extremely tough to win four races in a row, and he is one to oppose.

RACE 11: TAIPA HANDICAP

This race can represent a last-ditch attempt to secure a BMW Hong Kong Derby berth before the field for the March 19 race is revealed on Wednesday. While it is open to all, the four-year-olds appear the ones to watch here. #9 Circuit Hassler was diabolical at his first two starts before running a bold race on the speed behind Rapper Dragon in the Classic Mile and then flying home for second behind stablemate California Disegno last time out. He has a wide gate, but expect a bold run as he tries to book a Derby spot. It was hard not to be impressed with #4 Limitless last time out as he railed through from last to win decisively over 1400m. His problem is that he overraces and refuses to settle, so the step up to 1800m doesn’t necessarily look a positive. However, if he does somehow race more tractably, he is clearly the horse to beat. #10 Prawn Baba was outclassed in the Classic Cup but had been good prior to that. With 113 pounds on his back, he should run his usual honest race again. #14 Who Dat Singa looks a solid Derby contender, if only he can gain a start. The former Western Australian galloper plugged away for third behind Limitless last time out, but he appears suited by the step up to 1800m and can improve.