05/25/2017 10:00AM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong selections and analysis for Sunday, May 28, 2017

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 SHA TIN SELECTIONS

(Sunday, May 28, 2017)

 

RACE 1: #3 Volitation, #2 Green Dispatch, #6 Lotus Strikes Back, #4 Jolly Gene

RACE 2: #1 Gallant Rock, #7 Indigenous Star, #5 Zero Hedge, #4 Nice Fandango

RACE 3: #4 Happy And Healthy, #2 Ambitious Pins, #1 Vara Pearl, #9 Gold Velvet

RACE 4: #2 Sunny Way, #10 Sir Redalot, #1 Mighty Maverick, #13 Wushu Champion

RACE 5: #4 My Darling, #1 Midnight Rattler, #10 Baba Mama, #8 Hang's Decision

RACE 6: #4 Such A Happiness, #2 Relentless Me, #10 Autopay, #6 C P Power

RACE 7: #1 Werther, #4 Eagle Way, #6 Helene Charisma, #7 Gold Mount

RACE 8: #9 Magic Legend, #7 D B Pin, #1 Mr Stunning, #8 Fabulous One

RACE 9: #7 Penang Hall, #6 Winston's Lad, #10 Bank On Red, #1 Divine Boy

RACE 10: #7 Southern Legend, #10 Shamal, #1 Line Seeker, #13 Turf Sprint

 

RACE 1: PRECISION HANDICAP

#3 Volitation creates interest stepping up to 2000m for the first time. The four-year-old struggled at a mile last weekend, his first run beyond 1400m, but it was an odd day of racing and he didn’t look particularly suited. As a son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, he should get the extended trip, so he is one worth a play in an open race. #2 Green Dispatch looked to have everything handed to him on a silver platter over this course and distance last start, but he couldn’t reel in Jolly Gene. He does meet that horse six pounds better for a length and three-quarter defeat, so he’s a chance again. #6 Lotus Strikes Back gets the 10-pound claim of Matthew Poon to assist him, meaning he is only carrying 112 pounds. That could be crucial in an even race, so he goes in. #4 Jolly Gene doesn’t win out of turn but he has been racing in good heart even before his last-start success, so he’s capable of going back to back.

 

RACE 2: CHEERS HONG KONG HANDICAP

#1 Gallant Rock drops back into Class 4, where he was a three-time winner over this course and distance last season. He gets the seven-pound claim of Jack Wong, so he only carries 126 pounds, and from his favourable outside draw, he should be able to jump to the lead and prove tough to run down. #7 Indigenous Star ran two good races over the straight 1000m earlier this season, punctuated by two poor efforts over the 1200m. He’s had a couple of months on the sidelines and with the outside draw over this course and distance, he will be coming home strongly. #5 Zero Hedge steps out for the first time. He has looked a nice enough prospect in his trials and should be well primed for his debut, especially with trainer John Size on fire currently. #4 Nice Fandango has looked good at both starts to date, making a significant step forward last time out. He has an awkward inside alley but with luck, he can figure.

 

RACE 3: MIGHTY HIGH HANDICAP

#4 Happy And Healthy steps back up to a mile after two runs over 1400m, including a victory last month. Matthew Poon rides once again, taking his weight down to 119 pounds, and the trip should suit, so he bears close watching. #2 Ambitious Pins looked a horse likely to win once he got down to Class 4, but he has disappointed slightly in two runs since. He is worth another chance with the return to Sha Tin, though. #1 Vara Pearl has desperately needed the drop in grade, despite running a number of good races in Class 3 earlier in the term. His best has come at Happy Valley, but even still, he is worth another chance down in Class 4. #9 Gold Velvet has been beaten a combined 31 lengths in three starts to date, but he improved with a step up in trip last time out. He is open to further improvement.

 

RACE 4: PACKING WINNER HANDICAP

#2 Sunny Way has turned a corner at his last two starts, charging home to win two back before defying the outside barrier to run second to Beauty Kingdom last time out. He has an awkward draw again, but now that the penny has finally dropped, he is capable of working his way back into Class 2. #10 Sir Redalot makes his Hong Kong debut here, one of two debutants on the day for Ronald Arculli and his wife Johanna. The gelding won two from six in Ireland when named Sir Dreamalot and from his trials, he looks ready to run a bold race. #1 Mighty Maverick is a very consistent horse when racing in Class 3. From a good draw, he should get an ideal run in transit and he will be hard to beat. #13 Wushu Champion is a frustrating horse who has more talent than he has shown. He has proved his own worst enemy at times, but if he jumps cleanly from gate one, he is capable of scoring before he drops down into Class 4.

 

RACE 5: VIVA PATACA HANDICAP

#4 My Darling was outclassed and outstayed in the Hong Kong Classic Cup and Hong Kong Derby, but he shrugged off those efforts to finish a game third last start behind New Asia Sunrise when circumstances were entirely against him – not only did he face a wide run from the outside gate, but he was then hampered on the turn and was hard-held when stuck behind horses for much of the straight. With even luck, he will be winning here. #1 Midnight Rattler definitely appears to be on his mark after a surprise Class 1 victory two back, but he gets Matthew Poon’s 10-pound claim to take his weight down to 123 pounds, and that could make him competitive here. #10 Baba Mama was another who didn’t have a clear run in that New Asia Sunrise race. He has disappointed slightly in recent starts but is worth another chance with only 116 pounds on his back. #8 Hang's Decision is a very honest galloper who has probably found his level. Still, with the right run, he can get into the finish.

 

RACE 6: LIBERATOR HANDICAP

A fascinating race with most of the contenders drawn wide. #4 Such A Happiness took an age to wind up last time out along the inside, but he eventually charged home for fourth behind Metallic Star. He won’t have lost any admirers for that run, although he might be better suited outside horses, which should be assured from gate 12. He will break through shortly, and this looms as the perfect opportunity. #2 Relentless Me was impressive on debut in his victory, despite the narrow margin of a neck. He looks a horse heading higher, although the outside gate of 14 means he will face a tougher task here, especially with a six-point increase. #10 Autopay is still learning what the caper is about, but he has been good in two runs back from a spell. He will likely settle handier here and is capable of producing a big effort. #6 C P Power has proven consistent without getting a win on the board yet. He should be somewhere around the mark again.

 

RACE 7: G1 STANDARD CHARTERED CHAMPIONS & CHATER CUP

#1 Werther was beaten as an odds-on favourite in this race last year after a long season that included wins in the Hong Kong Derby and the QEII Cup. This year, injury has ensured that he hasn’t been raced as arduously and he arrives on somewhat fresh legs. There are queries over whether the 2400m really suits him, but if he finds his best, he should be winning this year. #4 Eagle Way is likely to start favourite here on the back of his win in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, Hong Kong’s only 2400m handicap, last time out. Last year’s Queensland Derby winner is a stayer through and through and he still looks to be improving, but he might just find his stablemate too strong late. Another Moore galloper #6 Helene Charisma was second in the Queen Mother, proving himself as another decent stayer for the yard – to be expected, given he won the Grand Prix de Paris last year. Any rain would help his cause as he tries to find the extra length or two required. Trainer Tony Cruz has won the last four Champions & Chater Cups, two with Blazing Speed, who lines up again at what is likely to be his last start. However, it could be a changing of the guard for the yard and preference is given to #7 Gold Mount, who has had a light campaign and still looks to have plenty of scope for improvement.

 

RACE 8: G3 SHA TIN VASE

The handicap conditions of this race make it a fascinating affair and bring those down on the limit right into it. #9 Magic Legend is still a three-year-old, but what he did in winning his first four races in Hong Kong was unprecedented for a horse previously raced abroad, at least in recent times. He arguably could have been five-for-five if not for striking bad interference over the straight 1000m last time out. He looks well suited in this race with only 113 pounds and he will be hard to beat. #7 D B Pin is likely to be named this season’s Most Improved Horse after improving his rating by 52 points before this race. The 1200m was considered some concern before last start, when he won by more than three lengths on the dirt. The light impost gives him his best chance of a stakes breakthrough. His stablemate #1 Mr Stunning will have plenty of admirers after working his way through the grades to win the G2 Sprint Cup and just fall short in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize. Peniaphobia did win this race with 130 pounds last year, so the task is not impossible, but giving away 20 pounds to some of these looks a big ask. #8 Fabulous One returns after a two-run campaign in Dubai, where he disappointed. However, getting back to the right-handed circle should suit and he could lead for fun here if they so desired. With 113 pounds on his back, that could make for a dangerous combination.

 

RACE 9: MR MEDICI HANDICAP

#7 Penang Hall had little luck two starts back but had every chance last time out, both efforts yielding a third. He gets Matthew Poon’s claim again to get him down in the weights, while a good draw should ensure he enjoys a soft run. He’s worth one more chance. #6 Winston's Lad has made a habit of running on without winning in recent starts. He will be running home well again, and should have his chance to break through. #10 Bank On Red is the day’s second Arculli-owned debutant. The three-year-old raced as Sincil Bank in the UK, where he won a race on the Tapeta at Newcastle from three starts. He has looked a nice galloper from the trials, but he should definitely improve on whatever he does here. Still, he’s worth including. Last year, #1 Divine Boy was running in the Sha Tin Vase. He has produced some good efforts at times this term, but he hasn’t been able to put it together. With the drop back into Class 3, maybe this is his chance.

 

RACE 10: CALIFORNIA MEMORY HANDICAP

#7 Southern Legend steps out for the first time in Hong Kong for Caspar Fownes. He arrives with strong Australian form, including a Listed win and two G2 placings against some of the stronger sprinters down under. He looks well-handicapped on a mark of 87, and even if he still needs time to acclimatise, he has enough in his favour here – gate one, Joao Moreira aboard, good trials under his belt – to suggest he can be a force in this race. #10 Shamal has won his last three races, two by big margins, to enter Class 2 for the first time, only three runs after dropping into Class 4. Similar front-running tactics will likely be adopted again, with Jack Wong jumping on to take his weight down to 113 pounds. #1 Line Seeker appears to be near his mark, but the claim of Matthew Poon takes his weight down to 123 pounds. With that impost, he is capable of figuring in the finish. #13 Turf Sprint’s rating is now below his winning mark from earlier in the season. He has got a kind draw here and with even luck, he can make his presence felt.