The final Saturday fixture at Shatin for the season arrives with a good mix of turf and dirt racing on the menu. The weather is expected to be hot and steamy and the rail on turf is in the B position.
With the "Jockey's Title" now all but decided our attention moves to the "Trainers Championship" with a Grand Stand finish looking all the more likely. All three trainers Ricky Yui, France Lui and Tony Cruz have fair chances heading in today, but rest assured they'll be no holding back in the coming weeks.
Yui still leads by two but it's likely he secures a winner with Mighty Valour, where as Lui has only 50/50 chances across the afternoon.
However, the local legend that is Tony Cruz might be the man to focus on, particularly in the second half of today's program. Cruz trails by four but seriously enjoys a challenge and if you've ever met Uncle Tony you'd know, he might just be quietly preparing a ground striking formidable attach on his two fellow trainers. His horses are durable, hard fit and mentally strong and there's a stable full of them.
I always remember his layed back advice to a young Mathew Chadwick prior to his first big race ride..."Just Stay Cool Man"...and that's precisely what he'll be doing as the meetings count down to the grande finale on July 15 at the valley.
R1 - 12,3,5,9,6
R2 - 10,2,14,1,3
#3 Mighty Valour gave the opposition a galloping lesson first up suggesting he's come back a completely different horse. He trialled super prior to that classy display but there was a query going in as to wether or not he was just a morning glory. That has now been well and truly dismissed. With the outside gate and 13lb extra to carry things do look a little ugly on paper. There shouldn't be any need however for concern as he possesses the tactical speed to jump and cross. Once finding the rail and momentum he looks virtually unstoppable and what ever beats him shall win.
#5 Rewarding Together did plenty wrong on debut but still found the line well. He's again been afforded a good draw and shall hopefully capitalise this time by getting away to a better start. He'll no doubt improve from his debut and looks a likely type going forward. But can he find enough to test the favourite when the race is there to be won, not quite yet.
#12 Hero Star did his fair share of the heavy lifting through the first half last start and battled to the line honestly thereafter. Like the expected hot pot he'll be scouting forward in a hurray looking to cross the main division underneath. It's worth noting his effort on the clock last start was comparable to that of today's favourite. So he can run a competitive race right to the line.
#10 Super Kin now goes in to his third run back following that very long break from racing. He raced seemingly flat the last 300m second up which in hindsight was not a surprise. Still the query runner of the race to some degree and I'm far from brave enough to leave him out.
#11 Gallant Legacy was quite impressive winning three back and had excuses at the longer trip last start, when he drew wide and was riden forward. He's again today got this annoying barrier draw of ten, but the positive being he returns back in trip to the 1200m.
Selections : 3,5,12,10,11
R4 - 12,3,6,7,11
R5 - 3,12,1,11,2
#11 Nunchucks is a lightly raced 5yo by O'Reilly that's had what looks an average season on the score sheet. But a closer inspection reveals a number of runs being far better than they read in the form guide. In March he had two satisfactory races over the valley mile before a little freshen up at the Conghua Training Complex in China. In his return two weeks ago he was snagged back from the wide alley then sighted finding the line well the concluding stages. Today's race he draws well and meets a field that is likely to set some strong sectionals early. Ultimately that drags him in to the races perfectly creating a strong chance of victory.
#3 Heza Beauty has been ultra consistent since he began racing back in February. With another ideal gate and a perfect run in transit expected he's difficult to oppose when highlighting possible winners.
#2 Armor Star caught a lot of people of guard when he debut at 135/1, thereafter finishing fourth and looking hopelessly out of contention through the first half of the race. He was much sharper second up with the hood being removed and galloped greenly to the line for a nice win. He's a big baby that still has plenty to learn but it's quite evident already, he's above average.
#4 Circuit Hassler was a Group 2 winner in New Zealand before being shipped to Hong Kong and unfortunately for connections, and his backers, has only had one success from forty eight starts. In his defensive there's been eleven minors along the way and he'll go around again today well rated and some chance.
#14 Seize The Spirit is a class 5 winner only but has performed with merit over the last few months. At the bottom of class 4 with no weight and a tempo up front to chase, he's a sneaky little ruffy that could cause an upset.
Selections : 11,3,2,4,14
R7 - 12,2,1,3,9
R8 - 8,13,7,12,5
R9 - 14,6,1,8,9
#11 Dan Control formally a very smart 2yo from Ireland looks perfectly placed in this particularly strong class 2 race that finalises the day's proceedings. When first arriving in Hong Kong he immediately caught people's attention with an arrogant first up class 3 win. However things didn't quite head in the same direction thereafter. It's since taken more than a year for John Moore to get this fella back to his best after injury niggles and a suspensory issue back in January this year. He returned in May with a super run first up and then again fabulous second up, with both performances coming from horror barrier draws. With a good gate today and a lovely trail in transit expected he's a great chance and the toughest to beat.
#13 Circuit Three has been a revelation this season winning three races from five starts. He's had some set backs himself since last winning in March with general soreness and lameness issues across all four limbs. Spending nearly two months at the Conghua Training Complex in China though has sorted him out and he's back ready to fire. I'd suggest he'll go in here a little underdone but he's a real talent, particularly going forward.
#8 Beauty Applause resumes today after a four month break since his last race day assignment. He's been well prepared for this return with four trials in total, two of which he won with Moreira a on board. The question now that hangs over his head is can he improve enough, to continue winning at this level.
#3 Happy Fun is another who looks close to his mark but his incredible consistency and tactical speed make him difficult to oppose. There's plenty of pace foreseeable in this race which creates a higher level of vulnerability, especially when the whips are cracking.
#5 King Opie was a very progressive and almost unassuming young talent in the early days of his career, and is often overlooked in this upper echelon. He'll go in third up, fresh, and a dangerous customer to overlook, despite his average winning strike rate in this grade.
Selections : 11,13,8,3,5