02/06/2017 1:22PM

Sharp Hunter continues campaign in tougher class


Sharp Hunter outgrew class 4 handicaps in Hong Kong late last year, winning consecutive races in October and November.

A move to the tougher class 3 division has not been as smooth, with fourth-place finishes in late November and December. Sharp Hunter will have his sixth start of the 2016-17 Hong Kong season Wednesday in the $159,354 Wong Nai Chung Handicap at six furlongs on turf at Happy Valley Racecourse.

The Wong Nai Chung Handicap is the sixth race on an eight-race program that begins at 7:15 a.m. Eastern, or 4:15 a.m. Pacific. Wagering is available on DRFBets.com.

The Wong Nai Chung Handicap is restricted to horses rated 60 to 80. Sharp Hunter has a rating of 65 and will carry 120 pounds, or 12 less than topweight Marvel Tribe, who has a rating of 77. Sharp Hunter was rated at 53 when he won a handicap for the 40 to 60 division in October, and has risen in class through the season. In comparison, the Group 1 winner Able Friend is the top-rated runner in Hong Kong, at 130.

Sharp Hunter is part of a field of 12 that includes I’m A Winner, a class 3 winner Jan. 25, and Lucky Day, who won two races earlier in the current Hong Kong season.

There are two other class 3 handicaps worth $159,354 on Wednesday’s program – the Volunteers’ Challenge Cup at about a mile, and the second division of the Wong Nai Chung Handicap, the final race on the card.

Big Bang Bong, a winner of two of his last four starts, is the 133-pound topweight in the Volunteers’ Challenge Cup. He was a troubled fourth in his last start Jan. 25, beaten 1 3/4 lengths after a bumping incident early in the race.

World Record can be a factor, if he can make the jump from class 4 races. World Record won consecutive starts in November and December at that level at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong before finishing a troubled second there Jan. 14.

Sharp Hunter is trained by David Ferraris, who is originally from South Africa, and will be ridden by Sam Clipperton. In the second division of the Wong Nai Chung Handicap, they will team again with Fantastic Feeling, a 5-year-old gelding.

Fantastic Feeling won a class 3 handicap Dec. 10, but was third and sixth in his last two starts, racing in traffic on both occasions. The race marks the Hong Kong debut of Green Energy, a two-time winner in Australia in 2015 and last year.