The Wolf’s race by race preview of Hong Kong Derby day on Sunday.
Despite still being a maiden after 11 starts, it appears the penny has finally started to drop with Fast and Furious. The Sebring gelding has hit the line very strongly at his last two starts, and with a favourable draw he should be able to sit a couple of lengths closer this time and prove too strong in this low grade affair.
It was impossible to not be impressed by the last start win of Friends of Nanjing and he looks well placed to repeat it here. He had no luck on debut back in January, getting back in the field and going to the line untested, but last start showed what he could do with an impressive win over Winning Vibe. That horse looks a danger once again but Friends of Nanjing should be able to go on with it here.
Mr Picasso was a ‘flashing light’ run last time and should be able to win at his second career start. Getting back in a race without much speed, he sprinted hard late to just miss in a close finish. Zac Purton retains the ride and although he has drawn barrier 10, there looks to be enough speed in the race for him to finish over the top of them.
Tom’s Charm looks to have come back a better horse this prep and is looking for a mile now. His first up effort over 1200m was a real eye catcher, before getting back and having very little luck last time at Happy Valley. He’s drawn the pole today so look for Ryan Moore to have him much closer in the run.
Rouge et Blanc covered more ground than the early settlers in similar grade last time out and gets a chance to break through for an overdue win. From barrier nine he was three wide no cover the whole way, but that won’t happen again this time from barrier two, and he gets some decent weight relief in this. One of the best bets of the day.
Travel Renyi is an extremely progressive galloper and the drop from Group 3 to Class 2 company should see him back in the winner’s circle. Before his solid last start fourth in the Hong Kong – Macau Trophy, he put together impressive back to back wins over this track and distance, and despite the extra weight and slightly awkward draw, his ability should get him over the line here.
A classy group of sprinters assemble here but Lucky Bubbles may have the most upside of all of them. Two starts back he was a smart fourth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile at G1 level, where he looked to not quite run out the trip, then last start over 1200m he was held up and had no luck at a vital stage. Brett Prebble will be keen to make amends for that and he shouldn’t get boxed up from barrier nine.
Australian readers may remember how much potential Washington Heights showed early on in Australia – a second placing to Hallowed Crown on debut – and his maiden Hong Kong victory last time out shows he might be able to finally live up to it. Coming from well back over 1000m he scored easily, and the extra distance won’t be any trouble. The best bet of the day.
Race 9 – Hong Kong Derby
The Hong Kong Derby, for four year olds, is always a fascinating contest and this year is no exception. Betting this year suggests three main chances:
Giovanni Canaletto comes from the Aidan O’Brien yard where he was trained to finish fourth in the English and third in the Irish Derby. He has run in both the main lead ups, the Classic Mile and Classic Cup, on both occasions coming from well back to hit the line hard. Joao Moreira took over last time and has the ride again here.
Werther will be well known to Australian audiences having finished second behind the ill-fated Delicacy in the South Australian Derby, before a trip north to Brisbane saw him claim the Eagle Farm Cup before running second in the Queensland Derby behind Magicool. He won on debut in Hong Kong before finishing second in the Classic Mile and Classic Cup. Hugh Bowman retains the ride once again.
Sun Jewellery had a far less auspicious beginning to his career than his two main rivals, breaking his maiden in a five horse maiden at Bairnsdale, when he was still called Tan Tat Sun. However, he has proven to be an outstanding galloper in Hong Kong, winning six of his seven races, including both the key lead ups, the Classic Mile and Classic Cup. Joao Moreira rode him until the Classic Mile at which point Ryan Moore took over, and will be riding once again.
Despite the impressive pedigrees of the other two, Sun Jewellery can make it a clean sweep of the Triple Crown here. He was bumped severely at the top of the straight last time and forced back to the inside, had he got clear running he probably would have won slightly easier. The race probably won’t be run at a particularly strong tempo which disadvantages Giovanni Canaletto. Keep an eye out too, for the most unfortunately named gelding in racing – Lucky Girl. He can fill a place at big odds.
Joao Moreira, the punters pal, can bring it home in the last with Gold Dragon. The Magic Man takes over from Chad Schofield, who didn’t have the best of runs last time out, and the gelding will likely be better suited back to 1600m. It’s an exceptionally open race, with Happy Place (one for the Happy Gilmore fans) and General of Patch also among the dangers.