Group 1 racing in Australia may be over for the weekend but Hong Kong's 10-race card at Sha Tin on Sunday features two Group 1's of their own - the Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2000m and the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup over 1400m.
Hong Kong is known for it's extremely competitive racing landscape and is often regarded as the place where the best jockeys in the world go to compete. Among those jockeys engaged on Sunday are names such as Joao Moreira, Zac Purton, Ryan Moore, Christophe Soumillon, Brett Prebble, Douglas Whyte, Tommy Berry, Nash Rawiller, Mickael Barzalona, Neil Callan and Craig Williams, giving the two Group 1's extra flavour.
We've assessed the chances of each runner set to line up in both Group 1's, as well as the markets currently available.
At the time of writing there is only two fixed odds markets available for this race - Sportsbet and Bet365. The Bet365 antepost market in particular is absolutely crazy! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the prices put up, and there's a few good judges in Hong Kong that support my thinking.
Secret Weapon is the $2.50 favourite which is ludicrous, followed by Blazing Speed, Giant Treasure and Helene Happy Star each at $6.00, then Designs On Rome at $7.00 and Military Attack at $9.00. The remaining runners are $31 or greater.
That market is absolutely mental and a long, long way off the mark in my opinion. Let's take a look at each runner.
BLAZING SPEED: Huge chance and prepared to back him at $6. Ran 3rd in this race last year behind Designs On Rome, and won the Gr1 QEII Cup over this track and distance last April against a very good field. His form lately has also been good - ran 3rd over this track and distance two starts back in a very hot Hong Kong Cup on International Day before finishing off well last start over 1600m. Back up to 2000m really suits him, needs a good ride from the barrier but rates as a huge chance.
DESIGNS ON ROME: Winner of this race last year. His form might be a bit better than what it reads, and he comes into this after finishing off well over 1600m. Steps up to 2000m and is sure to be peaking for this race at his fourth run back from a spell. Moreira was meant to ride but the owners wanted Berry on. Gets a great run from barrier 5 and he is another major player. He is way over the odds.
MILITARY ATTACK: Finished 2nd in this race last year. Just when I thought this horse was done he went and put in a good run last start over 1600m and the word is that his track gallop last week was super. Did beat Blazing Speed over this track and distance three starts back. Back up to 2000m, Purton back on board; good each way chance at $9 which looks a juicy price.
GIANT TREASURE: He is the big query in this race. His last two runs have been outstanding. Two starts back he finished 2nd to Japanese superstar Maurice, arguably the best miler in the world! Then last start he proved it was no fluke with a win over Luger over 1600m. The huge query is whether he will run out the 2000m, because his only attempt so far was when he failed in the HK Derby last year. Gets a very good run from barrier 6, I'm just not sure if he gets 2000m.
DAN EXCEL: The $101 outsider of the field. Hasn't been performing terribly and I wouldn't suggest he is a $101 pop but in saying that he would need to improve significantly to be a winning chance here.
HELENE HAPPY STAR: Defeated by Military Attack three starts back over this track and distance. Last start he was beaten 5 lengths by Secret Weapon but gets about a 7kg weight swing today. Draws wide but has Moreira on board again; I don't consider him a strong winning chance and the $6 quote he's currently at doesn't look right at all.
DOMINANT: Mixing his form a bit and did run a reasonably good race three starts back behind Military Attack. Draws the inside gate but he'll settle well back in the field. Not going well enough to win this.
HELENE SUPER STAR: Been beaten a combined 38 lengths in his 5 starts since his last win. Not going well enough at all.
SECRET WEAPON: The $2.50 quote at Bet365 is poison unders. He's $4.00 with Sportsbet and while that's a better price, I still couldn't touch him at that price. I have no idea how he's come up favourite in this. I know he's won 3 of his last 4 and won well in Group 3 company, but he only beat Romantic Touch that day and he carried 52kgs. He steps up to WFA Group 1 level here against Hong Kong's best horses and rises 5kg in weight. He will get the run of the race but I have doubts over the strength of his form compared to the other runners and I couldn't touch the $2.50 with someone else's money, let alone my own.
FLAME HERO: Looks a fairly big price here. He only finished 0.75 lengths behind Secret Weapon last start and is 2kg better off at the weights today, yet one is $2.50 fav and the other is 40/1? Draws to get a good run, and while I doubt he's anything other than a place chance, the price looks big.
MR GNOCCHI: Can't win Class 2 races so there's no hope of him winning a WFA Group 1! Way outclassed here.
Really happy to have a bet on the Bet365 market and completely avoid the first two in the market - Secret Weapon and Giant Treasure. Secret Weapon is coming off a Group 3 win with no weight on his back and steps up to WFA Group 1 level against Hong Kong's best horses. Shouldn't be anywhere near the $2.50 mark but what that means is my fancied horses come up a much bigger price than what they should be. I can understand Giant Treasure being around the $3.50 mark - his last two performances warrant him being favourite in this but there is a genuine question mark over whether he will run the 2000m out strong. He failed in the HK Derby last year which was his only attempt to date over 2000m.
That leaves us with the three I am very happy to be backing. Blazing Speed is slightly over the odds at $6, I think he's more of a $4.50 chance. His run on International Day was huge and the step up to 2000m should see him very competitive here. Designs On Rome comes into this ready to peak, also stepping up to 2000m. On his day he is the best horse in the race and I think today he could once again prove that. The $7 Bet365 are offering is ludicrous and I'm happy to jump all over it. Finally, Military Attack looks to have resurrected himself in the last few weeks. His run last start was good and I've heard that his gallop last week was outstanding. A horse of his quality in this field is over the odds at $9 and he's worth another shot.
I am happy to back all three of those at their prices to ensure a healthy profit if one of them wins. It means we take on the two favourites, but I think they've got the market wrong and prices available for Blazing Speed, Designs On Rome and Military Attack look very enticing.
1st DESIGNS ON ROME $6.00
2nd MILITARY ATTACK $9.00
3rd BLAZING SPEED $6.00
4th GIANT TREASURE $6.00
The second Group 1 of the day is in Race 8 and is run over 1400m, with a kitty of HK$10million. The market for this race is slightly more sensible, though there are a few significant differences between the Sportsbet and Bet365 markets, such as Beauty Flame being $6.50 with one and $15 with the other.
Gold Fun is the market leader at $1.90, followed by Contentment at $5.00 and Beauty Only at $6.00. Then comes Beauty Flame at $6.50 with Sportsbet, or $15 at Bet365, and the rest are around 20/1 or longer.
Comments for each runner are below:
GOLD FUN: Ultra consistent at this level. Has finished in the top 2 at 6 of his last 7 runs, 4 of which were at Group 1 level. He's been kept to the 1200m sprints recently but steps back up to 1400m here. The last time he raced over 1400m he finished 3rd behind Able Friend; Beauty Flame was in 2nd that day. He deserves to be favourite for this and from barrier 4 he will get absolutely every chance.
BEAUTY FLAME: Interesting runner and I've locked in the $15 at Bet365 for him on an each way basis. Three starts back he beat Contentment and Able Friend over 1600m; his two starts since have been reasonable without being impressive. But there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of pace in the race today and he can either lead or box seat from barrier 2. Zac Purton takes the ride which is a huge plus for this horse. Decent each way chance.
CONTENTMENT: Knocking on the door to win his maiden Group 1. Two starts back finished 3rd behind Multivictory in a Group 3 but carried 60kg that day and gets an 8.5kg weight swing today so he can reverse that. Last start he was right there in the finish with Giant Treasure and Luger which is good form for this. Needs a good ride from barrier 8 but he is ready to win his Group 1 here.
BEAUTY ONLY: Been around the mark at Group 2 level and ran well in the Group 1 behind Giant Treasure, Luger and Contentment last start. Don't think he can turn the tables on Contentment from that race though, and barrier 1 might prove slightly problematic for him. He should be thereabouts at the finish.
DUNDONNELL: Not what you'd call a traditional lead up into a 1400m Group 1. He raced over 1200m two starts ago and finished 4th, before dropping back to 1000m last start and finishing 3rd, then had a trial and now steps straight up to 1400m. Odd.Makes his stable debut for Casper Fownes so he will be rock hard fit for this and could run a place at 20/1.
CHARLES THE GREAT: Aiming too high here. He's best in and around Group 3 level, though his run two starts back in the Group 1 sprint behind Aerovelocity wasn't terrible.
REWARDING HERO: Another one that looks outclassed and is aiming too high. His runs this season haven't been good enough to be competitive here.
SECRET SHAM: Looks the likely leader in the race along with Beauty Flame and that's about as much as he will contribute to the race. Way outclassed here and I just hope he doesn't annoy Beauty Flame in the lead.
MULTIVICTORY: This is one at big odds that I can make a case for as a place chance. Two starts back he beat Packing Pins and Contentment over 1400m in a Group 3. Last start in the Group 1 he pulled up with a "substantial amount of mucus in trachea" so he had genuine excuses. He is 8.5kg worse off at the weights against Contentment today but he is a sneaky place chance at 20/1.
A race of few hopes here but this is still a very competitive Group 1. The only three winning chances in my mind are Gold Fun, Contentment and Beauty Flame.
Gold Fun just never runs a bad race and deserves to be favourite for this on the back of a string of good performances at Group 1 level. He draws to get the run of the race and is certainly the one to beat. However, at the prices I'd prefer to back Contentment to break through for his first Group 1 win. I believe the 1400m suits him better at this moment in time, and his run last start behind Giant Treasure and Luger was very good. He'll need a good ride but at $5 I think he's worth backing over Gold Fun. Beauty Flame gets Zac Purton on board today who will rate him to perfection out the front. He beat Contentment and Able Friend back in November and with a good draw he could be hard to run down.
Others to include as place chances are Beauty Only and Multivictory.
1st CONTENTMENT $5.00
2nd GOLD FUN $1.90
3rd BEAUTY FLAME $15
4th BEAUTY ONLY $6.00
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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