06/15/2017 4:50PM

Shamal's win streak on line in Racing Club Handicap


Shamal has had a meteoric rise in Hong Kong the last three months.

Winless in his first 11 Hong Kong starts, Shamal is unbeaten in four races since March 12, all six-furlong races on turf. Through the streak, Shamal has faced increasingly tougher rivals, and will start against the most difficult field of his Hong Kong career in Sunday’s $224,338 Racing Club Handicap at Sha Tin Racecourse.

The winning streak is in jeopardy.

The Racing Club Handicap, at six furlongs on turf, is restricted to horses with ratings ranging from 80 to 100. Shamal is rated at 91, a far cry from his career-low rating of 59 when the win streak began on March 12. (By comparison, the top-rated horses in Hong Kong – Aerovelocity and Mr Stunning – have ratings of 128.)

Shamal, a 5-year-old French-bred gelding, is part of a highly competitive field of 12 in the Racing Club Handicap, the last of 10 races on the Sha Tin program. Wagering is available through DRFBets.com.

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Shamal should be easy to find in the running. He typically races on the lead, a style that has led to wins by as much as 3 1/2 lengths on March 12, in a handicap for horses rated from 40 to 60, to a head win in his latest start in a handicap for horses rated 80 to 100 on May 28.

Shamal has been assigned 128 pounds, but will carry 121 pounds because apprentice jockey Dylan Mo claims seven pounds.

The 133-pound topweight is Sea Jade, who will actually carry 123 pounds since apprentice jockey Matthew Poon claims 10 pounds. Sea Jade is winless in three starts since a six-furlong handicap at Happy Valley in February.

As a result, the starting highweight will be House of Fun, at 132 pounds. Leading rider Joao Moreira has the mount on House of Fun, who has won two of his last four starts, and has won five of 10 starts during the Hong Kong season that began in September. House of Fun is a danger from just off the pace and will be well-backed thanks to the presence of the popular Moreira.

Flying Tourbillon and Momentum Lucky were second and fourth behind Shamal on May 28, finishing within a length after troubled trips.

There are four runners starting in Hong Kong for the first time or who recently began their careers on the circuit.

Lean Ambassador, who has yet to start in Hong Kong, was a Group 3 stakes winner in Australia last October when racing under the name Archives. Horses frequently have their names changed when transferred to Hong Kong.

Little Giant, formerly known as Blackcrown, is undefeated in three starts – two overnight races in New Zealand in 2016 and a six-furlong handicap at Sha Tin on May 7. Bulb Elite, who will start for the first time in Hong Kong on Sunday, was a Group 3 winner in New Zealand last year when racing under the name The Soultaker.

Lucky Dollar will have his third start in Hong Kong in Sunday’s race. He was unbeaten in two starts in Australia in 2015 and 2016 and was second to Shamal on April 30 in his Hong Kong debut. Lucky Dollar rebounded to win a five-furlong handicap on turf at Sha Tin on May 13.