Our Hong Kong expert has three selections - plus analysis - online for Sha Tin's early Sunday morning card - live on Sky Sports Racing.
This Sunday sees an excellent 11-race card from Sha Tin with the highlights being race nine, the Class 3 Sports Club Diamond Jubilee Challnge Cup (handicap) over 6f, due off at 9.35am, and the finale, race 11, the Class 2 Staunton Handicap over the mile, due off at 10.45am.
Zac Purton, who has a full book of rides on the card, now sits on 147 winners and has eight meetings left to try and break Joao Moreira’s record of 170 winners in a single season.
When you look at his rides on Sunday it wouldn’t be a surprise if he rode yet another bag full of winners, and my money says he’ll top the 170 by the end of the season, but it’s likely to go right down to the wire.
My best bet (NAP) on the card is AQUILA who runs in race three, the Class 4 D’Aguilar Handicap (6.30am) over 5f.
The 3yo from the Jimmy Ting yard has only had the one start to date when runner up over course and distance in April. He went off favourite in the betting that day, which would suggest a forward showing was very much expected.
Although held by the winner on debut, he was well clear of the others with the third, Marvelous World, who re-opposes here (nearly 2 lengths behind), coming out and winning his next start, thus the form already has a solid look to it.
The selection showed plenty of dash on debut and from the draw in eight here, he’s likely to make a beeline for the coveted grandstand rail and should be in an ideal position throughout.
It certainly doesn’t hurt his chances that two of his main rivals, Marvelous World and the debutant and recent barrier trial winner Super Kin, have both drawn in lower gates.
With a run under his belt Aqulia is entitled to improve, he’ll strip fitter and certainly be sharper for the first up effort, and that being the case, he should take all the beating.
My next best (NB) is CHAMPION SUPREME who runs in race 10, the Class 3 Shelley Handicap (10.10am) over 9f.
The 3yo from the John Moore yard won two on the bounce before being turned over when favourite last time out. On that occasion he ran third and was beaten by the re-opposing Splendour And Gold, who looks his main danger here, but I have no doubt he’ll turn that form around, for several reasons.
He drew a high gate last time and the connections instructed the rider not to get too far back due to the way the track was riding, but this meant that Champion Supreme was caught wide the entire trip, mostly without cover and he showed plenty of courage to run third.
This time the gates have been reversed with the selection drawing ideally in stall six whilst Splendour And Gold has a very tricky assignment from stall 13.
Plus, the selection is 7lb better off here, and if that’s not enough to convince you then I’ll also throw in the fact that Zac Purton rode Splendour And Gold last time, yet has jumped ship to ride Champion Supreme now.
There’s not a great deal of pace in the race and it wouldn’t surprise me if Purton elected to ride him closer to the speed, but unlike last time, the race maps very nicely for this progressive 3yo son of Denman, and all things being fair on the day, he should return to the winners’ circle.
My each-way selection (EW) on the card is RIVET who runs in the finale, race 11, the Class 2 Staunton Handicap (10.45am) over the mile.
I won’t pull any punches, Rivet has been a disappointment since landing in Hong Kong. He was formerly with William Haggas and arrived here with a big reputation having won the Champagne Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy as a 2yo, and as a 3yo he was placed in both the Craven and the French Guineas.
To be fair to the horse, although yet to win he has run well in defeat a few times. So why do I think he can get back into the winners’ circle? Predominately, because they have gone for a 10lb claimer, but let me explain.
He’s a horse who has had very little reprieve from the handicapper, despite going winless in 16 local starts, his handicap mark has only dropped 5lb (low 91, high 96), and in all that time they have never gone for a claim, until this race.
I’ve thought for a while now he would be a horse of interest once he got into the 80s, and with the claim he effectively runs off a mark of 83, which means he is now 8lb below the mark he was on when he was beaten a short head at Happy Valley two runs back.
I must be honest, he’s not the horse he was when with Haggas, but I've waited a while for him to get down to a mark that looks winnable, and with the 10lb claim here for the very capable Alfred Chan, he looks to be on a mark that gives him every opportunity to finally break his Hong Kong duck.
Tim's Best Bets:
6.30am SHA TIN (Race 3)
10.10am SHA TIN (Race 10)
CHAMPION SUPREME (NB)
10.45am SHA TIN (Race 11)
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