The stars are out at Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting, with most of Hong Kong’s top horses taking an important step towards the internationals in two features on the program but the Group 2 Premier Bowl over 1,200m also shows the thin numbers of the top sprinters.
Lucky Nine and Little Bridge are resting after their trip to Japan last month, and John Moore-trained Captain Sweet will head the weights as the best active sprinter. He resumed with an excellent second over 1,000m, his record of 20 starts for 8 wins and 9 placings shows he is a quality animal and one of the top chances in the Hong Kong Sprint in December and a worthy favourite on Sunday.
The Premier Bowl falls away sharply in class after Captain Sweet but these second-tier Group handicaps are not easy to win. Only two top favourites have ever won the Bowl, a race with many lightweight upsets in the past, including Rich Unicorn at 60-1 last year.
The potential lightweight upset this year could come from Cerise Cherry, a former winner of this race in 2010 and an unlucky second first-up, or El Zonda, winner of two of his last three at Sha Tin over 1,200m after being thought a Happy Valley specialist in his first 30 runs.
The Bowl is noting for potential international visitors as it has been a pointer in the past despite the winners often being badly weighted in the Hong Kong Sprint.
Absolute Champion (2006) won this race at 33-1 with a light handicap but converted that to a Hong Kong Sprint win, likewise Royal Delight (2007) won at 20-1 as a light weight before running third in December and Rich Unicorn finished fourth in the Hong Kong Sprint in 2011 after his lightweight Bowl win.
By Nathan Mody