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By Darren Winningham | Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Longines Hong Kong International Racing set down for Sunday 9 December is the culmination of the premier racing by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for 2018.

After a glamorous beginning to the Longines International Racing Carnival on Wednesday night with the Longines International Jockeys Challenge that was held at Happy Valley with the unique back drop of the Hong Kong island high rise around the track we head to Sha Tin racecourse for day two of the Carnival.

Wednesday night saw Silvestra De Sousa representing the UK win the challenge in emphatic fashion riding two winners out of the four races that were set down for the Challenge. The runner up was the very talented Irish rider Colin Keane.

The stage is set for a great day of racing on Sunday. The overseas horses, trainers, jockeys and connections have primed their horses to peak for this day, bringing horses from all around the world to Hong Kong to contest the HK$93 million that is on offer for the races.

The feature races are:

The Longines Hong Kong Vase – race 4 of the program (HK$20 million prizemoney)
The Longines Hong Kong Sprint – race 5 (HK$20 million prizemoney)
The Longines Hong Kong Mile – race 7 (HK$25 million prizemoney)
The Longines Hong Kong Cup – race 8 (HK$28 million prizemoney)

All four races are listed at Group 1 level. With so much glory and prizemoney on offer there will be some competitive racing.

There is a massive program set down with 10 races with the first race to commence at 12.25pm local time.

Now it is time for the preview.

There is a chance for showers forecast for Sunday – hopefully this will not affect the track and the racing.


Race 1

An open field to start the day. This race gets everyone in the mood for the day. By now thousands will be streaming through the gates collecting their free Longines Hong Kong Racing caps to celebrate this wonderful day of racing.

The “Magic Man” Joao Moriera is back in action at Sha Tin aboard the John Size trained Picken (9) who resumes here from a spell. He has had several barrier trials in preparation for this run and has been well supported in the early markets. Look for the local Hong Kong punters to rally behind Moriera in his first ride back in Hong Kong.

I like Zac Purton’s ride City Legend (4), who despite still being a maiden is proven over the distance and has been very consistent in his recent starts. He does get back and does power home – that could be the only drama in this large field.

Charizard (2) won quite impressively here last start over 1200 metres. He looked like he was in an impossible position, however, was able to get some luck in the straight and burn home late to destroy the field. With that run-in mind I do not think the 1400 metres here will be a drama for this runner.

Supreme Witness (11) won here over 1400 metres last start in a Class 5 race. This runner likes to lead or race close to the pace. He has drawn barrier 10 from the 1400 metre start – this should not be a problem for jockey Karis Keetan who should be able to get him across into a forward position.

I noticed the last few meetings at Sha Tin those runners on the pace have fared very well. This could be something to consider if he gets some cheap sectionals in front and gets left alone.

Noble De Love (7) is a Hugh Bowman ride – with only one career victory he is second up here this weekend and could be some value.

Selections: 4-9-2-11 rough chance 7


Race 2

This race is named after the five-time Group 1 Hong Kong racing champion Able Friend. I was fortunate to see this John Moore trained legend win the 2014 Longines Hong Kong Mile (Group 1) in sensational fashion. It is appropriate that this horse is remembered for his wonderful following and successes in Hong Kong racing. He was retired from racing last year.

Ambitious Heart (12) looks well placed here this weekend – drawn on the rails and likes to race forward.

The runner to watch is High Five (2) who could be a good price as well. He has run 1.09 twice here at Sha Tin over the 1200 metres which is good enough to get away with this race. I would overlook the last start failure at Happy Valley and go on his previous two wins here at Sha Tin.

Ka Ying Legend (3), another Hugh Bowman ride for trainer T Yung, is third up this weekend and goes up in distance from his last start run over 1000 metres. He worked home well, and he could be some odds.

There is a big push for Regency Legend (6) who has had many barrier trials and been working well. His last start trial he won by 6.5 lengths on the all-weather track. This was his best trial to date and the punters have rallied behind him based on this result.

Selections: 2-12-3-13 rough chances 6 & 16


Race 3

A tough race over 1800 metres.

The Moriera ride here looks well placed. Remarkable (12) is trained by John Size and in his last two starts has been a victim of circumstances as the track has favoured front runners and he has not been able to make distance late. I think that if we see them swooping and coming wide, as we normally do on International Race Day, this runner is in with a good chance. He has won here previously over the 1800 metres.

Zac Purton is aboard Bigwood (1) for Casper Fownes and looks like he will be back battling with his old rival here in the finish of this race. Purton versus Moriera over the final 100 metres will bring the Hong Kong crowd to their feet cheering and screaming for sure! His last start run at Happy Valley over this distance could be considered unlucky as he seemed to get held up coming into the straight – watch for a better run in transit here on this wider track.

Ho Ho Khan (2) won here over this distance a month ago and has not raced since. He had a recent barrier trial at Happy Valley over an unsuitable 1200 metres – the trial I think was just to sharpen him up for this run this weekend where all owners want to win a race on International Race Day!

Amazing Satchmo (6) won here over the mile last start with 2018 Champion International Jockey winner Silvestra De Sousa aboard. He was in great form on Wednesday night. Maybe this form will Carry over into Sunday!

Selections: 12-1-2-6 rough chance 8


Race 4 - The Longines Hong Kong Vase (Group 1)

The first of our Group 1 feature races the The Longines Hong Kong Vase (HK$20 million prizemoney).

I like the local runner Exultant (4) trained by Tony Cruz and to be ridden by Zac Purton. I think his lead up runs have been great and I think this is his grand finale. His last start over 2000 metres was full of merit working home solidly behind the winner on that day Eagle Way (6). A locally trained horse has not won this race since 2013 when Dominant won the race – maybe it is a time for a change!

Prince of Arran (8), to be ridden by Michael Walker, was great across the recent Melbourne Cup Carnival. Personally, I think that if he did not have to run on the Saturday prior to the Melbourne Cup he probably wins the 2018 Cup! I know a big call, but I think that resuming here with a small break and freshen up he will be very competitive in this field. Trainer Charlie Fellowes has been buoyant all week leading into the race about this runner’s chances.

Mirage Dancer (5) is a UK runner to be ridden by Ryan Moore. You must respect this runner on his recent form and due to the booking for Moore to ride this four-year-old Frankel stallion. Moore has ridden two out of the last three winners of this race. He knows how to get the job done. He has drawn wide but there is plenty of time to get in and get some cover.

The other foreign runner with some bug wraps is the French runner and topweight Waldgeist (1) trained by Andre Fabre and to be ridden by Pierre Boudot. His form has been very solid, and he has been working well each morning at track work at Sha Tin. On looks alone he will be right in this race.

Eagle Way (6) is another local runner trained by John Moore who comes off a great win over 2000 metres here last start. He must be respected.

If you are playing wide the Japanese filly Lys Gracieux (10) has been sensational this season in Japan – she does have the services of Joao Moriera who did win this race in 2016 aboard another Japanese runner Satono Crown.

Selections: 4-8-5-1 rough chances 6 & 10


Race 5 The Longines Hong Kong Sprint (Group 1)

The Longines Hong Kong Sprint (HK$20 million prizemoney) is our second feature race.

A wonderful field has been brought together for this race this year.

The favourite here looks a class above them – Hot King Prawn (5). He is drawn a little wide and normally likes to lead and that may be the only issue if the horses inside of him push up and keep him out wide. That could prove the downfall here.

Mr Stunning (2) does like to race a little further back and then race home late. He does have a great record over the 1200 metres with 7 wins and 8 placings from 17 starts. Karis Teetan has never missed a cheque in riding this runner in five starts.

Beat The Clock (4) is another runner from the John Size stables – he has four runners engaged in this race. He is second up here and he does race well second up. His run behind his stablemate Hot King Prawn (5) screamed that he had some improvement still left in him.

The other Size runner is the top weight Ivictory (1) who was in superb form last season. He has come back to the races carrying some massive weights – back to WFA for this run he could be one to see Christophe Lemaire claim a Group 1 victory in Hong Kong.

Selections: 5-2-4-1 rough chance 6


Race 6

A class 2 race separates the feature races on the program.

We all saw Dark Dream (3) win the 2018 QLD Derby and then be sold to Hong Kong. He makes his debut her for his new stable and connections with Zac Purton in the saddle. His recent trails have been nothing to get excited about – maybe he needs a little more time to settle in – but his previous form and the fact he likes to lead will probably position him well here.

Helene Leadingstar (10) won the South Australian Derby (Group 1) and was sold to Hong Kong as well. He has had 29 weeks between runs, however, his two recent barrier trials in Hong Kong have been superb. The last one around a fortnight ago he won with authority.

The issue with both runners is they are resuming – maybe this makes them both a risk.

Insayshable (1) is another John Size runner who has had three runs from a spell and is rock hard fit. Sure, he has some weight here, but he is drawn well and has some good form on soft going if the track is wet. He also has the services of Joao Moriera – he can win on a broomstick some weeks! He has some drawbacks as well though having never posted a win over a mile.

John Moore trains Easy Go Easy Win (3) who is looking for a maiden win over the mile as well. He does get a fair way back in his races and that is the only concern that I have. He may need some luck - but I think there may be some speed on in this race and this may suit the back markers.

Selections: 10-1-4-3


Race 7 The Longines Hong Kong Mile

The Longines Hong Kong Mile (HK$25 million prizemoney) is our third feature race on the program.

I think this is a special on the program – Beauty Generation (1) trained by John Moore and to be ridden by Zac Purton. He is undefeated in three starts this preparation for this team. Zac has a great affiliation with this gelding with 12 starts for 7 wins and 3 placings. His is around the $1.80 mark but seriously looks the winner for mine.

The Japanese runner Mozu Ascot (4) has run time in Japan for a mile – but they normally do this and turn up here and struggle. His work on the track this week has been solid. He will get back and will be looking for luck in the straight to get home late.

Fifty Fifty (7) will be ridden by James “Jay Mac” McDonald here. This runner loves the mile, has won here at the track and has been racing over some unsuitable distances in recent starts. I think that he will be ridden close to the speed from barrier 4 and if the favourite is going to be vulnerable late this may be the runner to offer a serious challenge.

John Size has two runners here – NothingIlikemore (11) and Whatelsebutyou (12). Both have won here over the mile and both are genuine chances.

Selections: 1-7-4-11 rough chance 12


Race 8 The Longines Hong Kong Cup

The Longines Hong Kong Cup (HK$28 million prizemoney) is our final Group 1 feature race – a very small but competitive field here in 2018.

The Japanese runners look the race may be between them here with Deirdre (9) looking for a hat trick of wins here. Christophe Lemaire rides for Mitsuru Hashida – in fact he has ridden her in her last two starts and has won three times and placed in the only four rides he has had aboard the mare. I think that she is versatile enough, not to get too far back and even if she did, with only a small field engaged she should be able to round them up and put them away.

The topweight is Sungrazer (1) another Japanese runner to be partnered by Joao Moriera. He resumed last start at Tokyo and could not run down the eventual winner Rey De Oro in the Group 1 Tenno Sho. He will be in this race for a long way.

Last year’s HK Cup winner is Time Warp (2) looking for a unique back to back win in the feature race. Not since California Memory (in 2011 and 2012) has this feat been achieved. Zac Purton will be looking for consecutive Hong Kong Cup victories as well.

If you want to look wide Northern Superstar (3) maybe a safe option for you. He resumed with a slashing run over an unsuitable 1600 metres. He has never been out of a place in three starts second up – look for him to challenge late.

Selections: 9-2-1-3


Race 9

This race is named after the champion Japanese sprinter Lord Kanaloa who won the Longines Sprint in 2012 & 2013. I was fortunate to see both wins and they were sensational!

Gold Win (4) resumed a month ago for his new stable – now trained by Tony Cruz and to be ridden by Karis Teetan. He has had two solid barrier trials to keep him fresh for this race and is unbeaten first up – 2 starts for 2 wins!

I think that his work suggests that he is ready to run a bold race.

Limitless (2) resumed a month ago and was run down in the shadow of the posts. He is going to strip fitter for that performance and Gerald Mosse stays in the saddle for the second up run. This runner also has some wet weather form.

Raging Storm (7) has had a few runs in from a spell and won two starts ago here over the track and distance.

Since that win he has had a freshen up and has only had a barrier trial a fortnight ago where he really didn’t show much but was still able to finish on their heels.

Fortune Booth (1) can get back and fly home – he does not win out of turn but Zac Purton is in the saddle.

Selections: 4-2-7-1


Race 10

This is the last race on the wonderful program – a sporting celebration that is shared across the World where patrons, owners, trainers, jockeys and other staff are lured to the City of Lights to see if they can claim fame and riches!

By now I hope you are all winning and can sit back, crack a beer and enjoy the last race!

This is an open race – I have looked for some value in Noble Steed to be ridden by the UK rider Ryan Moore. Moore has been quiet over the Carnival to date – maybe he can wait for the last race to get a win on the board. Noble Steed is up in grade and weight – however, has drawn barrier 1 and should be able to push up and place himself in a prominent position.

Invincible Fresh (2) is looking for a hat trick of victories at Sha Tin over 1400 metres with Karis Teetan to ride him again.

Meanwhile Mr Wealth (4) won here at a large price unexpectedly with the speed on in that race and was able to storm home late to pass some tired runners and win.

Nicconi Express (7), trained by John Size and to be ridden by Joao Moriera, has had only three career starts for 1 win and 2 seconds. The punters at Sha Tin love to hook into the favourite in the last and with Moriera aboard watch for the outpouring of money to back this runner.

Selections: 8-2-7-4 rough chance 14


Jockey’s Challenge

It is an even competition between the old foes – Zac Purton and Joao Moriera. I am hoping Zac gets the better of him this weekend. If you are looking for a roughie away from these two – I would suggest that Karis Teetan is a rough hope as well.

Quaddie (races 6 to 10)

1,7/1,2,9/2,4,7/2,4,7,8 - cost is $72 for $1

Value Quaddie (races 6 to 10)

1/2,9/4,12/2,7,8 - cost is 12 for $1

Treble (races 7 to 10)

1,2,9/2,4,7/2,4,7,8 - cost is $36 to $1

Value Treble (races 7 to 10)

2,9/4,12/2,7,8 – cost in $12 to $1

The SIX UP is like our BIG 6 is worth a motza on Saturday!
SIX UP (races 6 to 10)

2,5/1,10/1,8/2,9/2,4/2,4,7 - cost is $96 to $1


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