The return to dirt is a big plus for Coolceleb, who won off a higher mark over C&D at the end of last season and is partnered by Zac Purton for the first time since. He looks very interesting but newcomer WINNING BREW has shown considerable promise in recent trials and gets the nod. Last-time-out C&D winner Little Thunder is also afforded significant respect.
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Zac Purton’s mount Virtus Star has been knocking on the door this year and will be in thick of things again if suited by today’s switch to dirt. However, he may not be straightforward and his strike-rate now stands at 0-17. Perhaps it might pay to oppose him with THE FULL BLOOM, who has slipped to a dangerous handicap mark (even before Alfred Chan’s useful 7lb claim is taken into account) and might be perked up by the new headgear today. Curling Luxury is not one to rely upon heavily but also makes the shortlist.
Thou Shall Sing is feared but has a tough draw to negotiate. Jade Theatre has looked a shadow of his former self in recent months but interest in him is heightened by the booking of Zac Purton.
Glorious Artist is now only 1lb higher than when winning a shade cosily over course and distance (C&D) in December but riding arrangements suggest KINGS SHIELD is the stable’s main hope. The 5yo was soundly beaten in the 7f turf event won by Buddies here 18 days ago, but has a very good chance at today’s weights if judged on last month’s C&D second to Mongolian King.
Today’s return to 6f on dirt looks the right move for Handsome Rebel, while Jerry Chau’s very useful 10lb claim makes Elite Boy another to consider very seriously. However, the suggestion is well-drawn 5yo WAYFOONG CHARMER, who has posted some good efforts in defeat over C&D this season and has slipped to a handy mark.
Zac Purton is an eye-catching booking for ex-Australian 4yo Sunset Watch, who has made a quiet start to his Hong Kong career but makes his official dirt debut after an encouraging recent trial on this surface. However, low-mileage 3yo SUPER POWER MAN could still have significant further improvement to come and is taken to complete a C&D hat-trick. Victory In Hand is next on the list.
Party Everyday went agonisingly close to making his breakthrough on recent dirt debut. He can make his presence felt again from a 2lb higher mark but may have to settle for minor honours behind selection JADE FORTUNE. The handicapper may have opened the door to Manfred Man’s veteran 7yo with a recent 2lb drop and he can claim a fifth career win. Unexposed Kelamimi Wins is worth monitoring in the market on his second start for John Moore.
California Concord made a highly encouraging Hong Kong debut and has strong claims if building on that run. Namjong Sings continues to attract market support and holds claims from his low weight with a talented 7lb claimer on board but UTOPIA LIFE is taken to get back to winning ways. Manfred Man’s 4yo was a wide-margin c&D winner last month and has continued to run well in the face of a significant handicap hike; Jerry Chau’s 10lb claim could be the difference maker.
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