By David Morgan
A couple of top drawer Group 2 contests dominate Sunday’s (9 April) action at Sha Tin but away from the Chairman’s Trophy and Sprint Cup there is some attention grabbing action.
The Class 2 Jinbao Street Handicap (2200m), race nine of 10 on the day, features a clutch of smart four-year-olds with something to prove following defeats in last month’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).
While Derby victor Rapper Dragon will go up against established Group 1 seniors in the Chairman’s Trophy at a mile, those he vanquished will step up to 2200m as they attempt to prove their merit with the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2400m), G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) and G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on the horizon.
Beauty Generation (128lb), Helene Charisma (125lb) and Eagle Way (125lb) finished third, fifth and sixth, respectively, behind their John Moore-trained stablemate in the Derby and will take their places in the 14-runner contest.
Beauty Generation’s one win from five Hong Kong starts came in a mile Class 2 back in January, but jockey Zac Purton believes the extra distance might be favourable. The Road To Rock gelding has attempted a trip beyond 2000m only once before, when fourth in the G1 BMW (2400m) at Rosehill a little more than a year ago.
“He ran as well as he could in the Derby, the first two home are just different class, that’s all,” Purton said. “With the longer races coming up further down the track it’s a good chance to run over a distance, use it as a stepping stone and see how he handles it.
“He seems to run the same race at any distance you run him at,” he continued. “He’s never been one that would run right through the line; what you see at the furlong is what you get at the finish. He’s not running home in cracking sectionals the last furlong - he gets himself into that position but he can’t seem to put them away.”
The former champion jockey is of the opinion that the consistent four-year-old’s run pattern is evidence that there might be improvement ahead.
“I think that inability to put them away is just a reflection of where he is physically and mentally - I think as he matures and strengthens up a little bit, hopefully he’ll finish off his races a little bit better. I still think the horse is a little bit untapped. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet,” he said.
“Every time I work him he just seems to get a little bit better, so I don’t believe he’s the finished product yet.”
The John Size-trained Prawn Baba (122lb) ran an honest seventh in the BMW Hong Kong Derby, four places ahead of his re-opposing stable mate Dinozzo (118lb). Neil Callan will take the ride on the Duke Of Marmalade gelding for the first time.
“Prawn Baba ran well in the Derby, it was a decent run for a horse that’s still lightly-raced - it’s just nice to get the ride on him,” Callan said.
The Australian-bred, a winner of two from four pre-import, landed his sole win from eight Hong Kong starts in a 1800m Class 2 at the course on 5 March. But a good second over the distance at Happy Valley, under a big weight, combined with his run style, suggests that Sunday’s 2200m should be well within his scope.
“The distance will suit him, he’ll stay all day - it looks like he’ll get two laps of the track around here, so that won’t be a problem,” Callan opined. “He’s got a wide draw but it’s probably going to be one of those typically-messy races we get over a distance here.
“It depends what John wants but I’d imagine we’d just roll forward and keep it simple. The more of a stamina test it is, the less you have to beat if you find the chinks in their armour. He just needs a rhythm; he’s not one that you’d want to be sending off too fast early though.
“He’s coming from the Derby, like most of the field,” the Irishman added, “but it’s a longer trip and different conditions so let’s hope he can give a strong showing.”
The contest also features the hat-trick seeking top-weight Marvel Hero (133lb), G3 scorer Supreme Profit (129lb), and distance winner Packing Dragon (123lb)
Premiere’s straight test
A mid-card highlight is the Class 3 Beijing Clubhouse Anniversary Cup Handicap (1000m) in which the useful young sprinter Premiere (129lb) will attempt to regain the winning thread against 13 rivals. Moreira is booked to ride.
The Size-trained three-year-old started his career running second, fourth and second down the Sha Tin straight before rattling off a hat-trick over 1000m at Happy Valley. A step up to 1200m at the city track last start resulted in a disappointing 11th-place finish and Size is reverting to the Sha Tin straight with his charge.
“He had to have a race somewhere and there wasn’t a race in the programme for him, but this one, 85-60, fits into that so we’re putting him back up the straight. It hasn’t been a successful course for him, but to go back there after his experience at Happy Valley he might run better,” Size said.
“He may not lead the race. If something goes quicker than him and he can follow a horse, he might run a little bit better. He’s always been healthy and well, he’s a pretty robust individual, he’s strong and he’s sound.”
Sunday’s action kicks off at 1pm with the Class 4 Chaoyangmen Handicap (1000m)
Beauty Generation (No. 2) opens his Hong Kong account in a mile Class 2.
Premiere completes a hat-trick of wins over 1000m at Happy Valley two starts back.