where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-04-24 18:34:26  
Champions Day at Sha Tin

Hong Kong racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for FWD Champions Day.

Three Group 1 races are set to go down, the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, the G1 Champions Mile and the G1 QEII Cup, which Japan will look to dominate as they boast four of the seven runners.

With no international runners in the Champions Mile due to the fear of facing Horse-Of-The Year Golden Sixty, Japan has turned its attention to the other feature races and is having a solid crack at the QEII Cup (2000m) and Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) with a total of five runners.

Excluding last year’s Champions Day due to no international runners, Hong Kong-trained horses have won six of the past nine QEII Cups with Japan winning the other three and with a four-pronged assault on the QE II Cup with Daring Tact, Loves Only You, Glory Vase and Kiseki, it may just advantage the visitors at the end of the 2000m race.

The Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) was opened to international competition for the first time in 2016, with Australian grey Chautauqua storming home from last to beat Hong Kong’s Lucky Bubbles.

The locals have prevailed since, but this year’s below-par team paves the way for Japan to claim their first Sprint Prize with 2020 Longines Hong Kong International Sprint winner Danon Smash the standout choice to win.

Even if the Japanese may have a stranglehold on the G1 QEII Cup (2000m), legendary Hong Kong trainer Tony Cruz is no slouch when it comes to the big ones.

After Exultant’s win in last year’s QEII Cup, Cruz, with three wins since 2015 with Blazing Speed and 2018 with Pakistan Star, is currently the most successful active trainer in the QEII Cup.

Winning at $1.50 last year, Exultant became just the fourth favourite to win the QEII Cup since it became a 2000m race in 1997, so the market elects, historically, are vulnerable.

Meanwhile, in the G1 Champions Mile, six market favourites have been victorious since the race’s inception in 2001, with Beauty Generation the shortest-priced winner sent off at 1.05 in 2019.

While in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, favourites have come out on top 16 of the past 36 times, striking at a high 44.44%.

This year’s likely favourite, Japan raider Danon Smash to be ridden by Joao Moreira, will look the join Australian sprinter Chautauqua as the second overseas horse to win the race since it opened to international competition in 2016. But if history is anything to go by, it suggests the Chairman’s Sprint Prize is a highly competitive race, with the average winning margin in the past 10 years being just 0.40 lengths.


Race-by-Race Previews

Race 1: Mission Smart had genuine excuses last start and consider again. Jumps from barrier 1 and can get on the board. Enchanting Start trialled very well in blinkers and he should be a big improver here. Fortune Master had betting support last start and where there is smoke there is fire. City Legend racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance. Hall Of Champ drops down in grade and start following. Drawn wide but has a bit of class against this lot.

Race 2: Packing Award turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability. Purton takes over the reins from Keith Yeung which stands him out as the one to beat. Victory Scholars finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start for an eye-catching debut run and he should be winning in no time. Party Genius remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here after good recent runs. Beauty Cheers could sneak a place in a race like this. Galactic has improved since the blinkers were added last start.

Race 3: Fantastic Way quality type who remains unbeaten to date (three-from-three) and will go close again against moderate opposition. Trader impressive debut winner who is a big winning chance up in class on a lightweight from a good barrier. Like That racing consistently of late and expect another big run with some luck in running from barrier 10. War Of Courage good performance when returning to form last start. Yo Beauty has the services of a top jockey today and could be an improver at his fourth time of asking.

Race 4: Perfect To Great looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form on the quick back up, but it’s a wide-open race with several winning chances. Entrusted changed trainer and trialled very well recently. No surprised to see Moreira pick up the ride. Beauty Fit can run well in a race like this with a safe beginning and he will be a good price with Moreira electing another ride. Maldives rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up. Serious Liaison changed stables recently and has improved.

Race 5: Danon Smash talented Japan-trained sprinter who won the Longines Hong Kong Sprint in December and returns to Sha Tin where he looks very hard to beat against modest local competition. Wellington go on the win two starts ago, where he looked very smart, and give a chance here. Stronger good performance when storming home for a nice second last start and he appears a key player. Beauty Applause looks a solid good chance based on last start and gets every chance under Purton. Computer Patch showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight – may be able to hold for a place.

Race 6: Gallant Express impressive debut winner who is hard to beat here up in class on the lightweight. Winning For All eased early before going on to make late ground and he should map well from barrier 1 and give race a shake. Golden Link last start winner who retains good form and can run well again but could face more early pressure. E Star finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. King Opie recent runs have been encouraging and can run well with luck from the draw.

Race 7: Golden Sixty Hong Kong’s best horse who is the one to beat dropping back to his pet distance at the mile. The small field will make it a highly tactical affair but his turn-of-foot is insurmountable. Southern Legend winner of this race last year and looks a chance again peaking at the right time. More Than This placed last start and looks a chance to run well again with Moreira in the saddle. Ka Ying Star last start winner who retains good form and will give some cheek on the lead. Healthy Happy go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here as he drops back in trip from the Derby.

Race 8: Daring Tact quality filly who is Japan’s sixth Fillies’ Triple Crown winner and boasts outstanding form in her home country. She should take a power of beating in a race like this. Glory Vase overseas form in Japan reads strong and he is already a winner in Hong Kong after winning the Longines Hong Kong Vase in 2019. Exultant local Champion Stayer who was the winner of this race last year and seems to be coming to the fore at the right time. Loves Only You talented Japanese mare and has a good chance to win here after running a sizzling race in Dubai. Kiseki has been working well at Sha Tin and can give this a shake but has not won for a long time now (1281 days).

Race 9: Savaquin racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and should be hard to hold out here. Tourbillon Diamond finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start in the Hong Kong Derby and still has more to come. Charity Go racing consistently of late and expect another big run from the good draw where he appears to map ideally. Circuit Three had excuses last start (lame limbs) and forget the run. Super Football last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss – has shown ability and can surprise.

Race 10: Courier Wonder unbeaten to date but this is toughest test rising to Class 2. However, it is the strongest of races and he will be favoured to continue his winning ways. Duke Wai good effort last start leading all the way to win and from barrier No 2 will be going close again. Lucky Patch last start placing was full of merit, nice effort and Purton on is a plus. Winning Dreamer drops back from a Group race and this will be easier. Wind N Grass is capable of running a fast final 400m sectional time and recent runs have been full of promise.

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