The Chairman’s Sprint Prize (07:50 BST) kicks off a trio of Group 1 races on Sha Tin’s Sunday card, and this looks a good opportunity for the exciting Aethero to restore a reputation that has become somewhat tarnished in recent times.
John Moore’s gelding confirmed himself a high-class performer when taking the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint at this track in November, a performance that saw him sent off a short-priced favourite for the Hong Kong Sprint the following month. Cutting out the running, while racing a little keenly, Aethero was collared late on and had to settle for third behind Beat The Clock, though that was a fair run for one still relatively inexperienced.
Little went right for Aethero on his most recent outing in the Group 2 Sprint Cup here earlier this month, where he had problems at the start and could never get anywhere near the front, eventually trailing home in rear. That effort is best forgiven and, with a recent trial showing him to be in good heart, Aethero is taken to make amends.
The start is obviously crucial, but with a clean break, and his main pace rival drawn to his outside, we hopefully will get to see the real Aethero this time around.
Hot King Prawn looks the obvious one to capitalise if Aethero fails to give his running again. John Size’s five-year-old has been a model of consistency in defeat in some of the top Hong Kong contests this season and few would begrudge him a first win at the top level. Of the others, Voyage Warrior has a steadily-improving profile and accounted for Hot King Prawn in the aforementioned Sprint Cup last time. A repeat of that effort will put him firmly in the mix.
There’s little doubt over the top performer in Hong Kong in recent years, and that is Beauty Generation, his efforts in the 2018/19 season in particular ranking him right up there with the likes of another John Moore-trained star in Able Friend. However,
Beauty Generation’s previous air of invincibility was shattered by defeats in four consecutive races earlier this term. A return to form of late, though, will see Beauty Generation likely go off favourite in an attempt to record a hat-trick of wins in the Champions Mile (09:00 BST). Chief rival Waikuku has traded blows with Beauty Generation throughout this season and in form terms there is little between them if both show up with their ‘A’ games. It’s difficult to put together a strong case for any of the others, Ka Ying Star looking the best of them, while Rattan is capable on his day but probably isn’t quite up to this level.
The final Group 1 on the card, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (09:40), should go the way of the high-class Exultant. He couldn’t quite reel in Time Warp over 10f last time, with that one getting an easy lead, though he should turn the tables here.
Likely to be sent off a prohibitive price, Exultant can’t be recommended as a betting proposition, though those wanting a sporting interest could do worse than chancing Playa Del Puente each-way (two places) or underneath Exultant in a forecast. A three-time winner for Michael Halford in Ireland, Playa Del Puente went down only narrowly to Golden Sixty in the Hong Kong Derby last time, and should put up another good account in this stronger company. He’s on an upward curve against largely-exposed rivals and ought to give us a good run for our money at a big price.
- Aethero in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize
- Playa Del Puente (each-way or in forecast with Exultant) in the QE II Cup