12/25/2016 1:33PM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong selections and analysis for Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016

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SHA TIN SELECTIONS

(Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016)

 

RACE 1: #4 O’Socoole, #9 Lean Journey, #3 Rugby Diamond, #7 No Laughing Matter

RACE 2: #6 Gentlemen, #8 Silver Gatsby, #13 Holy Star, #5 Amazing Always

RACE 3: #1 Pakistan Star, #2 Sea Jade, #3 Look Eras, #5 Amritsaria

RACE 4: #1 Jumbo Happiness, #9 Autopay, #3 Hot Hot Pepper, #8 Spring Win

RACE 5: #6 Victory Machine, #9 House Of Fun, #3 Happy Agility, #1 Istanbul Bey

RACE 6: #9 Great Joy, #1 Xinjiang Yarn, #7 Bo Duke, #8 King Bountiful

RACE 7: #4 Enreaching, #12 Consistent, #2 Expedite, #5 Dragon Harmony

RACE 8: #6 D B Pin, #7 Fairy Twins, #2 Dragon Master, #8 Super Wise

RACE 9: #13 Dinozzo, #9 Green Dispatch, #2 Ambitious Champion, #8 California Disegno

RACE 10: #2 Magical Beauty, #5 Majestic Anthem,  #4 Ultimate Glory, #13 Electronic Phoenix

RACE 11: #11 Who Dat Singa, #1 Beauty Generation, #8 My Darling, #13 California Whip

 

RACE 1: WONG YI CHAU HANDICAP

#4 O’Socoole has run two good races at Sha Tin this season, punctured by a bad run on a wet track over the Happy Valley 1000m. He appears ready to win again, especially off this rating, and Sam Clipperton is riding in good form currently. #9 Lean Journey was hard in the market at his first five starts after his debut at this meeting in 2014 and looked bound for Class 3 in no time. Instead, he’s now deep into Class 5. The talent’s there, it’s just a case of coaxing it out of him – and whether he decides to show up. #3 Rugby Diamond has speed but is also quite hit and miss. His best run this season came over this course and distance so perhaps now’s the time to return to the Sha Tin 1200m. #7 No Laughing Matter has been extremely disappointing but has drawn well and can add value to the exotics.

 

RACE 2: YIM TIN TSAI HANDICAP

A number of interesting horses here in what is ultimately a tough Class 5 with very few horses racing well. #6 Gentlemen gets the drop to Class 5 for the first time after seven fairly plain efforts in Class 4. His last run, though, suggested he might be able to perform here. He got back to last on a solid tempo and made nice ground late. The step up to a mile should suit, as will the drop in grade, and it wouldn’t shock to see him break through here. #8 Silver Gatsby has dropped 38 ratings points through 18 unplaced efforts. He gets the blinkers on again with the step up in trip, and he looked quite suited by the extended Happy Valley mile earlier in the season. He may need to drop further but he’s a chance. #13 Holy Star also gets the blinkers on again with a cutback in distance. He’s a horse more than capable of winning a race like this if everything falls into place. Next best, #5 Amazing Always, who needs to improve sharply but does have a good Class 5 record so is capable of improving at any time.

 

RACE 3: THE GRIFFIN TROPHY

The day’s feature, but probably the most straightforward race of the day. A rare non-stakes set weights race in Hong Kong, it looks tailor-made for #1 Pakistan Star to return to the winners’ circle. He should be giving away more weight to every horse in the race than he is, and this looks an easy kill before he tackles the four-year-old classics in Hong Kong. Joao Moreira jumps aboard for the first time, too. #2 Sea Jade is coming off easy wins at Happy Valley at his last two. He’ll be sure to run them along out in front and try to make Pakistan Star chase hard, but he did get beaten by six lengths by Pakistan Star at their only encounter and does meet him nine pounds worse now. Still, he looks to have a significant margin on the race. #3 Look Eras did win the main lead-up to this, but it looked a weak race and the best he can hope for is a distant placing, while #5 Amritsaria does have race experience – perhaps the only positive for him. 

 

RACE 4: TAI LONG TSUI HANDICAP

A fascinating Class 4 with a number of talented horses sliding down the ratings, some lightly raced types who look set to explode at a rate of knots and an intriguing first-starter by the name of Fair Comment. The son of 2010 G1 Underwood Stakes 1-2 So You Think and Dariana, both trained by Bart Cummings, Fair Comment looks nowhere near ready and a work in progress, but on pedigree alone, he will attract interest. Best to avoid him here, though. #1 Jumbo Happiness has improved significantly with every start and despite finishing nearly five lengths from Sea Jade last time, his fast-finishing third showed that he will be breaking through very shortly. The return to Sha Tin is a query, as he performed poorly over this course and distance on debut, but he looks a better horse now. #9 Autopay was luckless first-up and plenty was expected at his second outing, but he didn't show a great deal. He's still learning and Joao Moreira jumping on is a positive, so he's a chance again. #3 Hot Hot Pepper can't break through but always produces a good effort, he just lacks a lethal blow late. He will be in the mix again. #8 Spring Win was just fair first-up but should improve with the run under his belt.

 

RACE 5: PAK TAM AU HANDICAP

#6 Victory Machine was good on debut, fair at his second start and burned up in a fast tempo at his third start. Put simply, little has gone right for him since his encouraging debut. There looks to be speed here but nothing as bad as last start and Sam Clipperton may even be suited by settling him into the box seat. Wherever he finds himself, he looks ready to get his campaign back on track now. #9 House Of Fun is no star but he looks the type who will be a Class 3 mainstay, always performing well here. He probably still has ratings points in hand and he looks the main danger here. #3 Happy Agility has returned a different horse this preparation as he has been kept to sprint trips and he has been given plenty of time between runs. His ceiling ratings-wise is approaching but he may have another win left in him. Keep #1 Istanbul Bey safe - he hasn't been that good at the trials but he looked a progressive type in the UK, albeit over further.

 

RACE 6: WONG SHEK HANDICAP

A tricky, even race made even more complex by a muddied pace scenario from the generally trappy 1800m. #9 Great Joy finally looks to be hitting form after showing flashes of ability in his six starts to date. He's been difficult mid-race, but he's still found the line. Now, he seems to be settling down a little bit and he looks capable of winning a couple on end. He has drawn wide in gate 11, but with the long run to the first bend, that shouldn't cause him any problems. #1 Xinjiang Yarn has been a model of consistency this season and looks capable once more of being able to put himself in the frame, particularly in a race with limited pace. That scenario could also benefit #7 Bo Duke, who is incredibly one-paced but who stays all day and has a chance of winning yet again if he has his rivals off the bit and chasing from the 600 metres. #8 King Bountiful was just fair at his last two but a switch back to Sha Tin and the rider change to Craig Williams could spark him up.

 

RACE 7: TAI TAN HANDICAP

#4 Enreaching heads to the dirt for the first time after a number of encouraging runs to begin his Hong Kong career. He makes a rapid step up in trip with the switch in surface, from 1000m on turf to 1650m on dirt, but as long as he settles in the run he looks a major player. Craig Williams looks a suitable rider to jump aboard too. #12 Consistent lives up to his name on this surface, always running well even without winning. Down in the weights, he looks a chance yet again with the right run. #2 Expedite is a typical dirt horse in Hong Kong who will bob up every now and then. He's honest and if he's put into the race at just the right time, he's a winning chance. It's easy to fall into the #5 Dragon Harmony trap after his four and a half length victory last time out but he's never won in Class 4 despite some good runs and he has yet to prove that he can handle the middle of Class 4. Perhaps the penny has dropped and he's got a new lease of life, but he did have everything to suit last time out. He's drawn wide again here and it is hard seeing him getting as soft a run on the lead here. At a likely short quote, he's worth taking on.

 

RACE 8: LUK WU HANDICAP

#6 D B Pin has come back a stronger horse this time in and has put together two impressive wins on end - three, if you count his "win" in the void race in late October. His last-start win had jockey Karis Teetan calling him a potential top-liner, and while it remains to be seen how far he can go, he looks bound for Class 2 in no time at all. A win here could catapult him up in class, in fact. He looks hard to beat. His main danger appears the horse who he beat last time out, #7 Fairy Twins. He meets D B Pin eight pounds better for a length and a half defeat, and he remains lightly raced too, having only had the seven starts. He has the coveted outside rail draw and should make it interesting, although he does shape as more a 1200m type. #2 Dragon Master returns to the straight after being tested at 1400m. He looks an out-and-out sprinter who gets the services of champion jockey Joao Moreira, Don't discount #8 Super Wise either after a meek debut. He looks to have taken improvement for the run and he looked a very promising horse in the making in Australia.

 

RACE 9: LONG KE HANDICAP

#13 Dinozzo has his first start at Sha Tin after three runs at Happy Valley. He shapes as though he will enjoy the more spacious course at Sha Tin and the step up to 2000m looks positive too for a horse that could potentially be a fringe Hong Kong Derby contender. With just 117 pounds on his back here, expect him to be hard to beat. #9 Green Dispatch has started to find some of the form that saw him finish third in a Prix du Jockey Club behind New Bay and Highland Reel, winning two back before a poor effort last time out. He has since trialled well and he looms as a contender here. #2 Ambitious Champion won the HKG3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup in May, the only 2400m handicap on the Hong Kong racing calendar, but has been out of sorts in five starts since. He maps well here, though, and the return to the Sha Tin 2000m should suit. #8 California Disegno has shown glimpses of talent since his arrival but has yet to find any notable form. He should go forward here, though, and he will be in this for a long way.

 

RACE 10: PAK TAM CHUNG HANDICAP

It might be worth siding with another dirt debutant in #2 Magical Beauty here. He doesn't have a dirt pedigree but has trialled over the surface satisfactorily, and he looks to be finding the form that took him to four wins last season. There's not a lot of wiggle room for him off that rating, he doesn't look to have too many more points in hand but from gate one, the race should set up well for him and if luck falls his way, he will be very competitive. #5 Majestic Anthem performs well on this surface and is very honest. He's another who looks to map well here and so he must be thrown in. #13 Electronic Phoenix is one-paced but is able to sustain a strong run, so crucial for handling the Sha Tin all-weather track, and he will be making strong headway late. Next best, #4 Ultimate Glory, who has never won on the surface but has also never run a poor race on this track, either.

 

RACE 11: CHEK KENG HANDICAP

A race that looks to have serious Classic Mile implications, this Class 2 has been won in the last five years by the likes of eventual 2013 Hong Kong Mile winner Glorious Days, subsequent G3 winners Secret Sham and Multivictory and last year's Classic Mile favourite Thewizardofoz. There are five horses who are aiming to run in the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, with three of them making their Hong Kong debuts here. Two of those debutants stand out and look the two best chances in this race: #11 Who Dat Singa and #1 Beauty Generation. On Australian form, Beauty Generation (who raced as Montaigne when trained by Anthony Cummings in Sydney) holds the stronger hand, having placed in the Rosehill Guineas and finished fourth in The BMW at his last start in March. He has trialled well leading into this, too. However, he did have a minor setback which ruled him out of an intended start last month. However, Who Dat Singa has really caught the eye since arriving in Hong Kong. The son of Iffraaj, who was trained by Alan Mathews, was a Listed winner and finished second in the WA Derby - not traditionally a strong race, and quite a few rungs below Sydney classic form. However, his one trial since arriving was terrific and he has caught the eye in the mornings. Both look horses that will improve into the four-year-old races, and Beauty Generation in particular looks a leading Derby chance at this stage. Raced commodities #8 My Darling and #13 California Whip look to be hitting form at the right time and both can run well with race fitness on their side. Don't rule out the fifth member of the classic crop, #5 Raghu, at his first Hong Kong start either.