The 10-race program at Sha Tin caps off a big weekend of racing on Sunday with the running of the Hong Kong Derby.
A wide-open field of stayers will step out with HK$24 million on the line, headlined by Hong Kong Classic Mile winner Excellent Proposal.
Zac Purton looks to have a legitimate chance at winning the race for a fourth time when he saddles Shadow Hero, while the always consistent Tourbillon Diamond and early favourite Russian Emperor rate highly to claim in their share of the spoils.
We’ve run the rule over every race on Derby Day and offer our thoughts below.
Race 1 – 3:00pm AEST – Class 4 Handicap (1200m)
Super Commander has drawn wide once again, but he does look set to peak now with plenty of race fitness on his side.
The four-year-old made up good ground for third last time out from mid-field over a touch shorter and should appreciate getting out to the 1200m now where he’s won previously.
Glenealy Generals is working up to another win and has raced well over this trip previously.
The son of Per Incanto has found the money in two of his four starts this time in work and has drawn to get a gun run with Neil Callan steering. He should settle just off the speed and finish off strongly.
Xponential mixes his form, but he can take improvement into this contest after a total forgive effort last time out from the wide draw. Must be included in multiples.
Race 2 – 3:30pm AEST – Class 4 Handicap (1200m)
Enchanting Start is only lightly-raced, but he has shown plenty in three starts to suggest he can finally break through and win his maiden.
Danny Shum’s four-year-old found the placings on both occasions during his maiden prep and returned a good effort for fourth first-up from a lengthy spell.
With Zac Purtone engaged from the inside draw, this looks a very winnable race for him.
Judy’s Star can be forgiven on her last start after drawing wide. He was a comfortable winner two runs back over this same track and trip and is a major player if Derek Leung can offset another tricky gate.
Divine Era was well-supported on debut where he copped a bump early on before making up ground to run fourth. Should have a little more running room this time from out wide and is worth thought.
Race 3 – 4:00pm AEST – Class 3 Handicap (2000m)
Charity Fun gapped his rivals by four-lengths two runs back over a touch further at Happy Valley before being gunned down from the front over the 1800m at Sha Tin last time out.
He had to do plenty of work that day from the wide draw, so he is worth another chance getting back out to the 2000m from a much kinder gate.
Awe has been up for a while, but he does look set to peak now after finding the money two runs back over this track and trip.
He found the 1800m a little too short last time out for fifth, but they may have been the hit-out he needed between runs as he gets back out over further.
Pakistan Friend faces is shooting for his hat-trick. This is much tougher company rising in class, but he’s a must in exotics with five wins to his name at Sha Tin.
Race 4 – 4:30pm AEST – Class 4 Handicap (1400m)
Charity Grace has only improved with racing, and while he has been charged with the top-weight, this does look a very winnable contest for him after just missing out on a pair of wins in his last two starts over this track and trip.
Master Hero won his maiden over this distance two runs back and is capable of improving on a fairly plain effort last time out.
Unicorn Baby doesn’t win out of turn, but he does tend to do his best racing second-up from a spell. The six-year-old overcame a similar draw in his return to the races to run fourth over this track and trip. Should be doing his best work late.
Sparky Star looked in good order last month finding the line for third first-up over further. He’s had a gap between runs now and is capable of finishing over the top.
Race 5 – 5:00pm AEST – Class 4 Handicap (1600m)
Breeze Of Spring is a consistent type well-deserving of another win.
The son of Pins has found the money in four of his six starts this time in work, which includes a last start third to Vukan over the 1400m. He’s raced only once over the mile in the past, but this looks well within his grasp.
Stunning Impact’s form also makes for easy reading. He’s winless in 12 starts, but if his last start runner-up is any indication, he should be finishing off strongly.
Maldives loves the mile and gets his chance to add a second win to his resume under Zac Purton.
The pair combined to score narrowly over a similar distance three runs back at Happy Valley, while he was far from disgraced last time out for fourth. Whether he likes Sha Tin still remains the query.
Race 6 – 5:35pm AEST – Class 3 Handicap (1400m)
Beluga was the clear winner over this track and trip back in October where he stalked the speed to beat home Sam’s Love by more than a length.
Since then, he’s gone on to find the placings in three of his five starts – all of which have come from awkward draws. After finally drawing a soft gate, he rates as the one to beat.
Beauty Legacy mixes his form, but he’s always a threat over this distance. The son of Fiorente finished off well last time out over this track and trip and should prove tough to hold out from the inside gate.
Race 7 – 6:05pm AEST – Class 3 Handicap (1200m)
Courier Wonder was sensational on debut back in October where he put five lengths between himself and the rest of the field. This is a tougher assignment up in class, but his recent trials suggest he’s the one to beat if Joao Moreira can establish a spot on speed.
Water Diviner has most of these covered on class and experience. He efforts since returning to work have only been plain, but this does look a nice bounce-back opportunity for him dropping back in grade.
Keep You Warm has been consistent of late and has plenty of fitness on his side. He’s found the placings in his last two starts and is capable of running a race if Karis Teetan can offset the wide gate.
Race 8 – 6:40pm AEST – The BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m)
This is a fascinating edition of the Derby with a host of winning chances lining up.
Excellent Proposal is unproven beyond 1800m, but he was simply outstanding two runs back winning the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile by a length to Lucky Express.
He finished off strongly for fourth last time out in The Hong Kong Classic Cup and looks ready for this now with plenty of fitness on his side.
Shadow Hero has been a consistent customer this time in work running fifth in The Hong Kong Mile, and more recently third in the The Hong Kong Classic Cup. He has a win on the board over this trip at Randwick earlier in his career and rates highly to figure somewhere in the top three.
The favourite Russian Emperor is only lightly-raced, but this isn’t beyond him despite a poor showing in The Hong Kong Mile. He bounced back nicely to finish a narrow runner-up in the Classic Cup and has also found the money in both his starts over the 2000m.
Tourbillon Diamond is just as tough to fault. He’s missed the money only once in four starts this prep and is rock hard fit. He’s only won once since venturing to Hong Kong, but there’s plenty of consistency to like.
Race 9 – 7:15pm AEST – Class 3 Handicap (1200m)
Fantastic Way is looking to claim his hat-trick and remain unbeaten when he steps out under Joao Moreira for the third time.
The son of Swiss Ace has been sensational since debuting back in January and looks more than capable of leading all the way here with minimal speed on offer.
Simply Spectacular’s resume makes for easy reading after bolting in to win over this track and trip second-up last month.
The son of I Am Invincible won debut two years ago under Zac Purton before returning to the races back in January off a lengthy spell. This is tougher now up in class, but he’s definitely got the speed to finish over the top of some of these.
Race 10 – 7:50pm AEST – Class 2 Handicap (1600m)
Tough way to wrap up the day with a big field stepping out.
Reliable Team has won twice and placed on two other occasions over the mile. The son of Reliable Man was run down late for third last time out over much further, so the step back to his preferred distance looks ideal now at this stage of his campaign.
Star Shine has been around the mark of late placing in two of his last three starts. He doesn’t win out of turn, but he does tend to do his best racing at Sha Tin.
Flagship Glory is facing Class 2 company for the first time, but he is a three-time winner over the mile. He carried big weight to a win over this track and trip last start and likely won’t know himself with 6kg’s off.
Beauty Smile rattled off back-to-back wins last month before finishing off well for third last time out with some extra weight on his back. Gets his chance to atone now if Zac Purton can offset the awkward gate.