Welcome to our horse racing preview and betting tips for racing at Sha Tin on Sunday, May 24th.
It's a Group 1 race day in Hong Kong with the Standard Chartered Chater Cup over 2400m headlining the monster 11-race card. The Group 1 comes up in Race 8.
Check out our preview and betting tips for the Sha Tin meeting below!
Best Bet: Race 5 - (10) Good Luck Friend
Best Value Bet: Race 10 - (2) Regency Bo Bo
Interesting little Griffin race to start off with, mainly due to the weights. (1) Sunny Star as impressive on debut, where he showed a very good turn of foot to win by 2.3L over the 1000m. He beat (6) Smiling Face and (7) Like That convincingly and there looked to be another gear or two under the hood if they needed it. Smiling Ace and Like That have since come out and run against each other again, where Like That bounced back to win by half-a-length, menaing Smiling Face has now run 2nd to both Sunny Star and Like That in separate races. Importantly, he meets both those horses 3kg better off at the weights today, while Sunny Star and Like That meet at the same weights as they did on debut when Sunny Star won. A couple of other things to note though. Like That started $3.40 in that race on debut, while Sunny Star was $6.50, so the market expected Like That to perform better. His run was disappointing, finishing 5th of the 6 runners, but they changed tactics with him last start and that proved to be the key. They rode him back and utislised his turn of foot last start, rather than trying to lead like they did when he failed on debut. So you have to respect his SP against Sunny Star and the fact that his poor performance on that occasion may have been due to him being ridden upside down. In any case, I think Sunny Star is the one to beat here, despite giving weight away.
Competitive race. (3) Armor Star ran the fastest final 400m of his race on debut when finishing 4th, beaten 2.3L. Purton takes over from Keith Yeung today so he gets a positive jockey change. The barrier does hurt a bit - he's drawn out in barrier 11, but the step up to 1400m should suit. (2) Leap Of Faith resumes and Moreira takes the ride for John Size, which tells us he's ready to go first up. He finished 2nd in two of his four starts in his first prep, beaten half-a-length in both, so we know he should be very competitive in this sort of class. Drawn well and should be right in the finish. (8) Noble Desire gets Jerry Chau booked today, meaning he takes 4.5kg off the horse's weight. He'll carry just 51.5kg, so equal bottom weight, and that could see him be very competitive at double figure odds. He ran the second-fastest final 400m of the race last start so he's going better than his form suggests. Include him at $16. (13) Shanghai Dragon returns from a spell after two very poor runs last prep. He's had surgery to repair a throat condition and his trials this time in have been better in my opinion. He draws the inside gate and carries bottom weight, so I expect him to run an improved race at $13. (6) So We Joy has been right around the mark recently but he's gone from 1200m, up to 1650m on the dirt, and now back to 1400m on the turf.
I'm with Jerry Chau again here because I think the $7.50 about (2) Monster Kaka is a decent price. Two starts ago he ran 3rd behind Mighty Giant when carrying bottom weight in Class 3, before dropping into Class 4 last start and running 3rd again. He carried 60.5kg top weight in that race, but with the claim for Chau today, he drops to 56kg, which puts him on a very winnable mark. For context, the favourite here is (10) Enjoy Life, who finished 0.5L ahead of Monster Kaka last start, yet meets him 5.5kg worse at the weights today and is half his price. (4) Full Power had excuses last start when caught wide. He won the start prior to that and Purton sticks with him today after riding him last start. He's also trialled him which is a good sign. (11) Mission Smart isn't hopeless.
The Group 3 Sha Tin Vase looks a nice race for progressive sprinter (2) Thanks Forever. He's somewhat one of the new kids on the block in the sprinting ranks, and he's made it clear this season that he's a Group 1-level sprinter. He comes into this having run 3rd in last month's Chairman's Sprint behind Mr Stunning and Big Time Baby, where he ran home in the fastest final 800m-400m split, and the second-fastest final 400m, bettered only by the winner. He started from gate 11 on that occasion but he draws well in 2 today, and Zac Purton jumps back aboard. (1) Hot King Prawn carries top weight but that didn't stop him beating Thanks Forever and Mr Stunning three starts ago. He ran 4th in the Chairman's Sprint last start, just the second time in his career that he's finished out of the placings. Moreira sticks with him and he shouldn't be underrated. (6) Jolly Banner isn't hopeless.
(10) Good Luck Friend looks the one to beat here. He was beaten a short-half-head carrying top weight in Class 4 last start, and he started from barrier 12. He rises in class today to Class 3 and drops down to 53.5kg, which means Zac Purton has to give up the ride as he can't make the weight. Moreira picks it up as is usually the case, and he draws a great gate in 4 to go with it. Out of that race he cotnested last start, the horses that finished 4th and 5th have both come out and won their next starts, so the form has already proven to be quite reliable. (1) Cruising is another good ride on the day for Jerry Chau. He resumed from a 34-week break with a good effort over this track and distance, finishing 5th, beaten 3.8L. He's never missed a place second up and the claim for Chau brings him down to 56kg. He draws well and should run well. Purton picks up the ride on (6) Biz Power for Paul O'Sullivan. He's another horse which ran well first up. He drew barrier 12 and sizzled home, recording the fastest final two splits of the race, and by some margin. He ran home better than the likes of War Of Courage, who is a good horse. He might just bump into one better today but it would be no shock if he won, and if he gets out to a good price I'd recommend having something on.
Not sure if (1) Sky Darci will be wound up and sharp enough over 1200m fresh with top weight, but I'm leaning to him on top anyway. The form out of the two races he contested in his first prep has been exceptional. He finished ahead of Good View Clarico on debut and then went on to beat Rich And Lucky and Gala Night at his second start. That was over 1400m, so he may be looking for a bit further, but he draws barrier 1 which gives him every chance, and he's trialled well. (3) Kinda Cool debuted well, running 2nd over the 1000m. He just found one better on the day but I expect him to take a lot of improvement out of that experience. Moreira and Size team up with (8) Scores Of Fun who has tralled well on a number of occasions and draws well.
Super competitive race. Moreira takes the ride on the Size debutant (9) Sell My Sole who has trialled well and looks set to run a big race. He draws perfectly and there's been money to suggest he'll go very well, which I agree with based on his trials and the fact Moreira jumps off (5) Yee Cheong Pegasus to ride him. Yee Cheong Pegasus has a win and four 2nds from five starts this prep. The win came over this track and distance and he also ran well behind Good Luck Friend here. He's going to run well but he's had plenty of chances this prep. (2) True Legend comes into this off a last-start win and the form has stacked up very well, with the 4th and 5th horses out of that race since winning. He rises in weight and draws wide today but I'd still keep him safe. (1) Xponential gets a very useful claim for Jerry Chau and should go well. (6) Cigar Buddies represents Vincent Ho and Ricky Yiu on debut. He's trialled well enough and you always have to respect horse for this trainer/jockey combination.
Something would have to go seriously wrong, or the horse would need to be well below his best for (1) Exultant to be losing this. He's Hong Kong's best stayer, as he once again proved over the 2000m in the QEII Cup last start, and he meets his opposition at level weights today, which practically makes him unbeatable. The step up to 2400m is only going to help him as he loves the distance, with three wins and two placings from five starts, and he can really utilise his superior stamina. While the margin wasn't great in the QEII Cup, it was a tactically masterful ride from Purton, and he had to ride the horse aggressively from about the 800m in order to make it a staying test. He draws the outside gate today so tactics will again be interesting, but with even luck he should be winning. (5) Chefano comes off a win in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial over this track and distance, but he did carry bottom weight in the handicap. This is a far different race and he now has to carry the same weight as a four-time Group 1 winner. (2) Furore produced his best run for a while behind Exultant last start but over 2400m it's a different story altogether. He's so far unproven at the distance, while Exultant relishes it.
He's got a very poor record at Sha Tin but I'm giving (9) Tangmere another go here. Casper Fownes has got this horse in career-best form and he was unlucky in defeat last start at Happy Valley. He won his two prior starts and he comes back to Sha Tin in he right sort of form to try and break his hoodoo. Purton sticks with him, he draws well and at dobule figure odds he's worth specking. There's plenty of other chances in a wide-open race here so will keep it simple with Tangmere.
Two horses I'm keen to back here. (10) Happy Alumni keeps running very well in defeat. He's finished off exceptionally in his past two starts but has just been left with a bit too much to do. He now steps up to 1400m which is a distance he's previously struggled at, but now is the right time to test him back up in distance. The good draw helps. The little query is he's just got the one win from 14 career starts now. I think you have to have something on (2) Regency Bo Bo at $8.50, who looks to have been set for this. He's 2/2 first up from a spell, including a win over this track and distance in Class 2 last preparation. Zac goes straight on after piloting him in his recent trial, which is a good hint that he's been booked a fair while in advance, he draws well in barrier 3 and expecting him to be very competitive at good odds.
(2) Glorious Spectrum bounced back to form last start, reeling off the fastest final two sectionals of the race to run 2nd, beaten 0.5L. He drew barrier 13 on that occasion but draws barrier 6 here so should be able to sit a touch closer. He gets up to 1400m which should suit him, as all four of his career wins have been over 1400m-1600m. Notably, he's never run third up from a spell before, so he's clearly struggled to maintain his soundness in the past. (3) Happy Fun had a tough run last start when trapped wide and the start prior he had trouble getting clear running in the straight. Purton back on today and a good draw means he should go close. (14) Will Power is the interesting runner. He's had five career starts for three wins and two placings, but they've all been on the dirt. He makes his turf debut today and it's often hard to gauge what they will go like when switching surfaces. (13) Sunny Boy can be thrown in at big odds.
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