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Japanese colt Lebensstil, stretching his legs ahead of Sunday’s Gr 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase, is made Tim Carrol’s best bet. (Picture: Kenneth Chan)
Tim Carroll Of At The Race’s Guide To Sha Tin On Sunday
The Longines International meeting headlines on Sunday where four big Group 1’s take place
This Sunday sees the pinnacle of the Hong Kong racing calendar, The Longines International meeting at Sha Tin, featuring four Group 1’s with a staggering £10 million plus on offer in the Group 1’s alone. Horses and Jockeys from all over the globe have flown in for one of the highlights of the International circuit.
Now on to the selections;
Race 4 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase (610am) (12 furlongs)
8 LEBENSSTIL is a lightly raced 3yo colt from Japan, a nation that have won three of the last four running’s of this race, and arrives having won three of his six starts, with a profile that would suggest the best is yet to come. The selection will be having his first try at the very top level but he cruised to victory in a Group 2 over one mile three furlongs at Nakayama last time, when he had a Group 1 winner well held in second. He steps up to this trip for the first time, but he should relish going over a mile and & half, and he does get 5lb from the older males.
5 West Wind Blows is yet to win over this trip but his runner-up efforts to Pyledriver in the Hardwicke Stakes, and Without A Fight in the Caulfield Cup this season are strong form lines, and he does prefer a firmer surface, which he should get here.
9 Warm Heart represents the Aiden O’Brien yard, who have won this race three times, & she was only narrowly denied by the brilliant Inspiral in the Breeders Cup fillies & mares turf when last seen, but she does go up against the boys for the first time.
3 Zeffiro is an improving type from Japan that has only recently been stepped up to this trip, having run with merit all four starts in this range, including when winning a Group 2 at Tokyo last month, and he does tend to finish off his races strongly.
Race 5 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (650am) (6 furlongs)
1 LUCKY SWEYNESSE, who is the highest rated sprinter in the world, and although turned over in this last year when unplaced as an odds-on favourite, he met more trouble than the early explorers that day, a run best forgotten. He does arrive this year having been beaten twice in three of his races, however both defeats he was runner-up conceding plenty of weight to the winners, and in races that didn’t shape favourably. He won the Jockey Club Sprint at set-weights last time, a traditional trial for this, with several of these in behind, and he should lob into a perfect spot from the draw in 5.
2 Wellington arrives as the defending champion, and although he ran below expectations at Royal Ascot, he made a nice return for his new yard when picking up the bronze having been tight for room in the straight behind Lucky Sweynesse in the Jockey Club Sprint, and its worth noting that connections have elected to go with first-time blinkers.
5 Victor The Winner will most likely smash out from stall 4 and try to dictate from the front like he did when carving out quick closing sectionals to win the Chief Executives Cup from Lucky Sweynesse at the start of the season, but he is not as well served under these conditions and will need a career best.
10 Highfield Princess would be a wonderful story, and she should get ground she enjoys, but this is a race that the Europeans usually struggle in (think Blue Point), and she does have an unfavourable draw, but she’s such a tough consistent mare that she should be considered for the exotics.
Race 7 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile (800am)
1 GOLDEN SIXTY will be looking to win this race for the third time having been surprisingly beaten in this last year by California Spangle in what turned out to be a tactical affair. The selection has been held-back this season and goes into the race having not been seen since April, however with a first-up record that reads a perfect six from six, I’d suggest there are no issues on that front, and may even be a positive. As one of the highest rated horses in the world, boasting twenty-five wins from his twenty-nine starts, it goes without saying that he is the logical play, especially given he should have a solid gallop to aim at, something that has cost him in the past.
7 Beauty Eternal was hugely progressive last season, winning seven of his ten starts, he arrives having won a traditional trial for this race, The Jockey Club Mile, and he should end up with the drop on the leaders from stall 5.
11 Encountered has a bit to find on the ratings with a few of these, but he should enjoy a high-pressure mile race, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to run well above market expectations after a soft win at Group 3 level last time.
4 Serifos is a Group 1 winning 4yo colt from Japan that was last seen when unplaced but not beaten far after a tough run in the Mile Championship at Kyoto, a race he won the year prior from Danon The Kid, who then was runner-up to Romantic Warrior in the Hong Kong Cup, thus the collateral form has a nice shape.
Race 8 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup (840am) (10 furlongs)
3 PROGNOSIS is no stranger to Sha Tin having been runner-up when two lengths behind Romantic Warrior in the QEII Cup here in April, a race that did not set-up kindly. The selection was given plenty to do that day off a sedate gallop, before having to change course in the straight. He has subsequently had two starts in Japan, winning a stacked Group 2, before finishing third to the world’s highest rated horse, Equinox, in the Tenno Sho, and with a stronger gallop on offer than what he saw here in April, he should be afforded every opportunity.
4 Rousham Park is a progressive 4yo colt from Japan who has won his last three starts, and although this will be his first try at the top level, he had the multiple Group winner, Titleholder, back in second last time when running through the line strongly, and he should not be underestimated.
1 Luxembourg, who has won three of his six starts in and around this trip, was last seen when only half a length behind the subsequent Breeders Cup turf winner, Auguste Rodin, in the Irish Champion Stakes, which is a strong form line, and he does look a major player, however, no European horse has won this since Snow Fairy in 2010.
2 Romantic Warrior, who has won eleven of his sixteen starts and scooted up in this race last year, was last seen when taking out Australia’s premier middle distance race, The Cox Plate, & will once again be hard hold out provided the trip Down Under hasn’t left a mark, but that does have to be a concern.
Race 1: Class 4 Silent Witness Handicap (425am) (6 furlongs)
6 GORGEOUS WIN went off on the second line of the betting, picking up the bronze on debut last month when in behind a rival who looks a smart prospect. He did get caught up in a pace duel before being sent to the front a long way out that day, but showed plenty of tenacity to hold on well. He’s entitled to come on for the run, and from a kinder draw, he should go very close to breaking his duck.
8 Patch Time ran well enough when fourth on debut when showing signs of greenness in the straight, and he’s entitled to come on for the run, but Purton jumps of to ride the selection.
12 Round The Globe is an eight start maiden who bombed last time, but he had run with a bit of promise several times prior that, and connections have elected to put the blinkers back on, which should help.
1 Happy Gold has been unplaced all three starts of the current campaign at Happy Valley, but he now returns to Sha Tin where he was a twice course & trip winner last season, and he’s only 3lb above his last winning mark.
Race 2: Class 4 Beauty Generation Handicap (455am) (7 furlongs)
5 STAR CLUB was having just his fourth start, his first start of the season and his first start for David Hall when winning in good style over six-furlongs last month. The selection box seated that day, but he ran through the line strongly, which would suggest he’ll enjoy stepping up to seven-furlongs for the first time, he’s open to further improvement, and the draw in 5 should ensure he has the run of the race.
6 Romantic Hero didn’t help himself when unplaced as an odds-on favourite on debut behind the selection, and he will need to be taken on trust, but he has trailed well and chances are he’s a fair bit better than what we saw that day.
3 Eighty Light Years, who was a twice winner in Australia, showed a bit of potential without placing in four starts during his first local season, but ran with plenty of merit on his return last month when runner-up over course & trip, and should be able to build on that.
1 Fun N Glory has been struggling in Class 3 company recently, but he now drops down to a level he is a twice winner at, and the favourable draw will help.
Race 3: Class 3 Maurice Handicap (535am) (7 furlongs)
7 SIMPLE HEDGE was unplaced when on the second line of the betting on his return last month, he was less than a length behind the second that day, and that was after a tough run planted wide without cover most of the way. The selection, who won three of his six starts last season, is from a yard who like to leave a bit to work with, and he did win second up last campaign.
9 Globally Harmony broke his local duck on his seasonal return before coming from stone last to grab the bronze in a pace dominated race over six furlongs last time, and he should enjoy stretching out over the extra furlong.
3 Tamra Blitz won over course & trip last time, which was his third win over this trip at his last eight starts and he should once again be factored in despite a 6lb hike in the handicap.
6 Chiu Chow Spirit is yet to break his local duck, but he was doing his best work late when less tan two-lengths behind Tamara Blitz last time, who he meets on 6lb better terms.
Race 6: Class 3 Jim & Tonic Handicap (725am) (9 furlongs)
2 ENSUED, who was originally with James Fanshawe, has won both starts in Hong Kong, and although he goes up 6lb for a narrow margin success last time, he did it tough without cover most of the race, but he’s likely to find some cover this time from the low draw. The selection has only had five runs in total, and although a 3yo being asked to carry weight in a Class 3 is no easy task, he very much on the up, and should go close to completing the three-timer.
9 Billionaire Secret was unplaced when nearly three-length behind the selection last time, but given he was held up in the straight and is now on 6lb better terms, he should be shortlisted in what is an open contest.
3 Silver King ran with promise when placed here on his local debut having tried to make all over a mile last month, but he’ll strip fitter, and he did win at Group 2 level over ten-furlongs in New Zealand.
6 Universal Horizon hasn’t been seen since July, but he was a consistent type last season, and its interesting that connections have elected to send him over nine-furlongs first-up, having ran well his only try over this trip when placed here in June.
Race 9: Class 3 Lord Kanaloa Handicap (920am) (6 furlongs)
5 BEAUTY WAVES, who was a maiden winner at Dundalk for Patrick Flynn last year when known as Starspangledwaves, has run with plenty of promise at both local starts and looked all over the winner last time when only picked off late having crossed from a high stall. The selection goes up 2lb for that, but he’s a progressive 3yo that should have plenty more to offer, and looks worth a play in what is a Class 3 full of potential.
1 Galaxy Patch is now undefeated in two starts on turf in Hong Kong and did win with something up his sleeve last time, but a 7lb penalty sees going from the top of the handicap in what looks a good contest.
9 Sweet Briar has been placed both starts of the campaign at Happy Valley but hasn’t enjoyed the rub of the green on both occasions, and despite being a 5yo, still has plenty of upside.
4 The Heir was a thrice winner in Australia that picked up nicely over the concluding stages when runner-up to the selection last time, and although well held by the winner, he does meet his rival on 7lb better terms
Race 10: Class 2 Highland Reel Handicap (1000am) (7 furlongs)
5 FANTASTIC TREASURE hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since September of last year, but he’s kept some good company in that time, and his late closing style means he hasn’t always enjoyed the best of the luck. The selection is seen at his best when there is plenty of pressure on and he can be delivered late, something that should fall into place here, and in an open looking contest, he should be a bit of value despite the book of Purton.
8 Atullibigeal is a bit more talented than his overall record would suggest, but he’s another one who will enjoy having something aim at, and the race maps kindly from the low draw.
7 Helios Express arrives under a 6lb penalty and on a four-timer, thus he should be highly respected, but he did only just get there last time after a gun run, and this is a stronger contest.
3 The Golden Scenery, who doesn’t know how to run a bad race, won over the mile last time and is another with a live chance from what looks a kind draw, despite the 5lb penalty.
Today’s Place Pot will be races 5 through to 10. All up we will be playing 81 combinations (1x3x1x3x3x3), which will cost £8.10 for a 10p stake and so on. Good luck.
4.25am SHA TIN
6.10am SHA TIN
6.50am SHA TIN