Sha Tin hosts a mixed meeting on Saturday this week, with the Hong Kong Jockey Club careful to protect the turf surface ahead of the QE II Cup and Champions Mile the following weekends.
So four of the ten races are on the all-weather track, and two more down the straight course, where the runners invariably head to the outside rail.
Douglas Whyte returns from suspension without having relinquished his jockey championship lead in his absence and with a tremendously strong book of mounts.
The pick of them is unbeaten Sea Dragon in the ninth. The John Size-trained Thorn Park gelding is four from four and steps up to Class Two and to 1,400m for the first time, something he has been indicating he might need now.
Whyte rides another Size horse in the last race, Master Sommelier, whose trials were terrific before being off the track all the way when fourth at his local debut in a smart race. With that run and a better barrier, he will takes some beating this time.
Whyte also has an interesting engagement for Size on Australian import, Rad, who raced under the same name when he won at Port Macquarie and Hawkesbury for Kris Lees last September. No horse has been trialling better at Sha Tin than Rad and he will be well-fancied to run well on debut but he does have some serious opposition in Zac Purton’s mount, the unbeaten Grimmy.
Purton is still clinging to his faint hope of dethroning Whyte this season, and the return of good young sprinter Little Cow in the seventh looks another of his chances. Little Cow’s breathing problem surfaced when beaten at odds-on last time but his previous form was outstanding and trainer Danny Shum has freshened him up for what looks virtually a two-horse race with Amber Sky.
By Nathan Mody