Australia’s eyes may be fixed on Melbourne Cup week but Sha Tin will host more modest fare this weekend, with champion Douglas Whyte providing one of the most intriguing aspects by not riding a likely favourite for John Size.
Whyte appears to have chosen Galaxy Prancer, which he has ridden in its two prior runs this season, over the impressive debut winner Happy Era in race nine, with arch-rival Brett Prebble the beneficiary after snapping up the vacant seat.
Happy Era looked a horse on the rise at Happy Valley at his first race start under Whyte, trotting home over 1,200m and looking a horse who would be even better suited by the bigger track at Sha Tin and the extra 200m. He looks certain to be the deserved clear favourite even if Whyte’s decision to go with Galaxy Prancer will have some punters thinking twice.
In the seventh race, Whyte is also off boom three-year-old Amber Sky, who returns after meeting defeat for the first time on September 8 at odds of 1-5. Matthew Chadwick replaces Whyte on the Ricky Yiu-trained gelding as he attempts to polish his tarnished reputation.
High-flying Zac Purton has been on fire lately and holds the top of the jockeys’ premiership clearly. His standout ride looks Travel Brand in the sixth after the gelding won brilliantly over the Sha Tin 1,800m in Class Four last time and moves up to Class Three this time.
Elsewhere on the card, the Dream Team combination of Size and Whyte is mostly intact, although it could be notable in the final race that Whyte will ride Sean Woods’Derbyhopeful, Autumn Gold, in preference to the two Size runners Aomen and Hot Shot. Autumn Gold had only three runs inGermanyas Auenturm, winning one and Group-placed at his third outing.
By Nathan Mody