Welcome to our horse racing preview and betting tips for racing at Sha Tin on Sunday, March 22nd.
It's Hong Kong Derby day at Sha Tin - the pinnacle of the four-year-old series and one of the region's premier races.
We've got a full preview of the day's action at Sha Tin below!
Best Bet: Race 7 - (5) Wellington
Best Value: Race 9 - (5) Precise Express
I have no idea how (7) All Best Friends is a $5.00 chance here. That's a poison price, I wouldn't back it with stolen money. He won by 4L last start but that was down in Class 5 and Purton rode him. Purton jumps off today, Alex Lai (who was riding him previously) jumps back on, and he's back up into Class 4. He was struggling to get near them with 52-53kg on his back in Class 4 prior to last start, but due to the margin of his win last time out, he carries 56.5kg today back up in class. He's no hope. (5) Sky Show is the horse Purton jumps on, on debut for Jimmy Ting. Trainer/jockey combo has a 28% strike rate this season and he's trialled well leading into his first start today. Barrier 5 is the key here - he could have a good headstart on the favourite from that draw and that could make all the difference. Keen to take $4.40. (4) Evan Almighty was good on debut, not beaten far. Moreira sticks with him today but he draws poorly in barrier 12. As aforementioned, he might give away too big a start on Sky Show. (12) Breeze Of Spring ran consecutive placings over track and distance before a luckless run last start. He can go well.
(11) Party Everyday comes up the $2.05 favourite here, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of this race. With that said, he goes on top. He ran 4th over the mile here last start, where he drew wide, went back and finished off strongly to get within 1.5L of the winner on the line. He ran the fastest final two sectionals of the race and with a slightly better draw today, he's the one to hold out if he can settle a touch closer. (10) Menaggio finished ahead of him in 3rd that day but he drew perfectly in barrier 4, while he draws out in barrier 12 today. He's a bit of value for each way punters at $12.
Hard to split the top two in the market here. (10) Yee Cheong Pegasus should be undefeated this preparation. He didn't get much luck first up when held up until the 200m mark before hitting the line strongly to go down by a nose. He atoned for that with a comfortable victory last time out, despite sitting wide through parts of the race. That was in this class and we'll get a read on the form earlier in the day through the likes of Breeze Of Spring and Evan Almighty. He'll put himself right up on speed from barrier 4 and I don't think the 3kg weight rise will stop him winning again. (4) Good Luck Friend has only had the one start and that was also over track and distance. He drew barrier 1, got a nice run and finished 1.3L off the winner. It was a pretty good effort for his first career start but he gets the big jockey change today of Zac Purton replacing Alex Lai. Jockey changes in Hong Kong don't get any bigger. Drawn well again, if he's taken natural improvement from his debut, he'll be very hard to beat.
Moreira jumps on (11) Heza Beauty for John Size today, so the horse will be ready to win. He's been ridden by Lyle Hewitson and Grant van Niekerk in his first two starts and he had no luck at all last time out when trapped wide. He still wasn't beaten all that far. Third up today, Moreira on, and notably, he jumps off another horse he's been riding to do so. I think he's ready to win. (1) Triple Triple is the horse he's jumped off. He dropped out to be beaten a very long way last start but his form prior to that race was good and his trial since that poor run was good. He's drawn the inside here so he should be able to run well if he's 100%. (5) Hinyuen Swiftness is building to a win with two good runs to open his campaign. (14) Courageous Dragon was trapped three-wide last start and still battled on to finish 3rd. He's drawn awkwardly today in barrier 13 but he's improved with each run, so at $14 he looks the value in the race. (9) Party Genius ran fairly on debut and isn't hopeless.
(12) Ping Hai Bravo looks short enough at $1.90 to me. He won two starts ago in Class 4 and was beaten 1.3L at his first go in Class 3 last start. Moreira takes over today, he draws perfectly in barrier 4 and will get every chance, but at the prices I'd rather be in the corner of (9) Happy Alumni. He was also a winner over track and distance two starts ago and also finished 4th last start in his first go in Class 3. He was beaten 2.2L but he reeled off a 22.15sec final 400m, which was by far the quickest of the race. Big jockey change with Vincent Ho replacing Lyle Hewitson. He has a tricky draw to overcome and he'll be giving Ping Hai Bravo a start, but I think he's a good bet at $5.00. (5) Hall Of Champ at $16 draws well and is one to include in numbers.
(13) London Hall could be a decent each way bet here at $14. He was a comfortable winner in Class 4 last start and now steps up to Class 3. He's placed in all three starts at this track and distance and the big positive for him today is barrier 1. That gate is the most successful over this course and distance, with five winners from 18 starters. Moreira jumps off which is obviously a negative but it's also part of the reason we're getting the odds we are. Moreira goes on (11) More Than A Horse, who was game in defeat after covering plenty of ground last start at Happy Valley. He gets a 2.5kg weight swing in his favour on the horse who won that race, which was (5) Winning Delight. With a light weight, he should go very close today. Winning Delight was a horror show last start. As aforementioned, he won over 2200m at Happy Valley two runs back, but he then lined up over 1800m here at Sha Tin and had plenty of things go against him. Purton jumps on today and from the good gate, he should be in this for a long way.
Good little contest coming up here with two smart horses. (5) Wellington made it two from two with a blistering performance last start, coming from seven lengths off the leader at the top of the straight to get up by a neck. In doing so, he recorded a 22.22sec final sectional. That followed up a 3L win on debut. He's had a quiet trial since his last run and Zac Purton takes over for the first time today. He's drawn awkward in barrier 12 but if he's within striking distace at the top of the straight, I think he'll win again. (11) Eternal Harvest is the other horse that's caught the eye. He improved from a good debut run to come out and dominate last start over track and distance. He rises to Class 3 for the first time but gets in with 52kg as a result. He's drawn much better than Wellington, with gate 2 no doubt aiding his chances. He'll have a fair head start on the favourite so it will be great viewing to see if Wellington can peg him back. (8) Kurpany is an interesting runner having his first run in Hong Kong. We've only seen him once before and that was a 4.5L victory in Ireland. He's been trialling well with Purton aboard but Purton opts to go with Wellington today.
It looks a very thin Hong Kong Derby this year. Winners of this race are normally always rated over 100, of which there's only three horses in this year's race. There was $2.30 available for (1) Golden Sixty last night, but that was snapped up and he's into $1.80 this morning. He's quite clearly the horse to beat given he's won 9 of his 10 career starts. His turn of foot is better than anything in this race, and he has great tactical versatility, being able to race on speed, in midfield, or back in the field. The draw is tricky for him today as there doesn't look great speed in the race, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up from barrier 9. The horse got Vincent Ho out of trouble last start - he was caught sleeping around the turn and was badly held up early in the straight, but once he got clear running, he picked up and hit the line powerfully. He probably won't want to do that again today. I think he'll handle the step up to 2000m and with even luck he's the winner. (3) More Than This draws barrier 1, which is what makes it a little bit interesting. He's a horse that typically races back in the field but I guarantee Purton will have him closer today, but he won't dig him up too much out of the gates otherwise he'll overrace. But expect to see him maybe three pairs back on the rail. I think the favourite has his measure, but if he gets into trouble like he did last start, More Than This will certainly get his chance with the aid of the good draw. (2) Champion's Way split the two of them last start and John Size will have him primed for today, but he got absolutely everything in his favour last start and still got beat by Golden Sixty. (7) Columbus County is a place chance.
There was a hidden run last start that's been a bit overlooked and that was (5) Precise Express. He was ridden by Alex Lai over track and distance and it was a pretty ugly watch if you go back and see the replay. He was zigging and zagging the entire straight but never really got clear running, finding backsides wherever he went. Back in Ireland, he put together two good wins before being sent to Hong Kong. Both were at this distance. The biggest jockey change in Hong Kong happens again here with Purton taking over from Lai and even though he's drawn wide in 13, at least he will get clear running. Expect him to improve and at $11 he's a good price. (2) All In Mind and (4) Guy Dragon are knocking on the door for a win.
(12) Circuit Three has won three on the trot and is aiming for a fourth here. He steps up to class 2 for the first time so drops in weight to 52kg. The form out of his wins has so far proven very strong. He gets a great draw in barrier 2 and can win again. (10) Seattle Choice broke through for his first win in Hong Kong last start and did so impressively, saluting by 3.5L. Prior to that he ran 2nd beaten a neck after being caught wide without cover the entire race, so he's certainly racing in great form. He also steps up to Class 2 and has been pretty harshly treated in the ratings and the weights. Drawn awkward in barrier 10 but he's on an upward curve and is still fairly unexposed, so he can definitely win again. (4) Happy Fun gets Purton on board. He's ultra-consistent, placing in five of his last six starts, with the only other one being a 4th placing when he was trapped wide without cover. Draws perfectly again and probably runs a place again.
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