01/09/2017 1:05PM

Encounter makes Hong Kong debut in Choi Wan


Encounter, the winner of the Group 2 German 2000 Guineas last May, will have his first Hong Kong start in Wednesday’s $225,649 Choi Wan Handicap at Happy Valley Racecourse.

Encounter raced in Europe under the name Knife Edge and was trained by Marco Botti in England. Horses frequently have their names changed when they are imported to Hong Kong.

Encounter is now trained by John Size, who leads the standings in Hong Kong. A 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding, Encounter won 2 of 5 starts in Europe and was second in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury Racecourse in England last April.

The Choi Wan Handicap is run at about a mile and 50 yards on turf and drew a full field of 12. There are two runners on the also-eligible list. Encounter has been assigned a handicap rating of 90 for his Hong Kong debut. The Choi Wan Handicap is restricted to runners rated 100-80.

Encounter will carry 128 pounds, five pounds less than topweight Packing Llargegyb, a 7-year-old gelding who has won 5 of 30 starts in Hong Kong. Packing Llargegyb is winless in five starts during the current Hong Kong season, which began in September.

Two entrants are on two-race winning streaks – People’s Knight and So Caffe. Most recently, they won against lesser competition in early December and take a jump in class.

The Choi Wan Handicap is the seventh race on an eight-race program that begins at 7:15 a.m. Eastern, or 4:15 a.m. Pacific. Past performances are available at drf.com/hk.

The final race on the program is the $225,649 Choi Hung Handicap at six furlongs. Blocker Dee, a winner of two races in the autumn, returns to turf after finishing fourth in a minor handicap at six furlongs on the all-weather surface at Sha Tin on Dec. 4.

Blocker Dee is likely to race near the front and must hold off a late threat from Verbinsky, who has won two of his last four starts, all at Happy Valley.

** Amazing Kids, the winner of Sunday’s Group 3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy at five furlongs on turf at Sha Tin, is a candidate for the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint at six furlongs on turf at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates on March 25.

Amazing Kids could have a prep race in the Group 2 Centenary Sprint Cup in Hong Kong on Jan. 30 before any plans are finalized.