Hong Kong’s annual Speed Series for the top sprinters gets under way on Sunday at Sha Tin with the Centenary Sprint Cup down the straight 1,000m course, with eight of the fourteen runners on trial for a trip to Dubai.
Evergreen Joy And Fun, a past Al Quoz Sprint winner who was also placed behind Ortensia last year in Dubai has been nominated for the race again as a nine-year-old, as has Eagle Regiment, last year’s Centenary Sprint winner.
Eagle Regiment subsequently suffered injury in Dubai and didn’t run there or anywhere else since, but the straight track specialist has tuned up with some excellent barrier trials.
And Caspar Fownes-trained Lucky Nine, the most highly-achieved sprinter in Hong Kong with three Group One wins, is likely headed to the desert for the Golden Shaheen – a race in which he was an excellent third a year ago.
Add to that the Golden Shaheen nominations Captain Sweet, Admiration, Cerise Cherry and John Moore’s emerging stars Time After Time and Frederick Engels, yet much of the attention is on three-year-old Amber Sky.
He had vet issues when fourth at odds-on over the course last start, but is a boom young galloper attempting a rare feat in the Hong Kong scene. He is the first three-year-old to oppose Group One sprinters at weight for age in ten years, and he would be the first of the age group to win since 2001 if successful.
Elsewhere on the card, Frenchman Olivier Doleuze looks one of the jockeys to follow on the day.
He rides Eagle Regiment in the main event for Manfred Man but he also has some interesting mounts in combination with trainer Richard Gibson – lightly-raced Big Four, Mi Savvy and Glacier Blue all look ready to win and debutant Great Charm was extremely impressive in winning a recent barrier trial.
By Nathan Mody