LJ Confidential: Gold Cup, Classic Mile and Purton’s G1 decision on Spangle vs Sweynesse
Asian Racing Review’s Andrew Le Jeune breaks down Sunday's two big Sha Tin features and reveals who Zac Purton has chosen to ride in next months G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
Tactics to decide Gold Cup
I’m leaning towards Romantic Warrior in Sunday’s Group One Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin but jockey Karis Teetan has to get things right.
Last time out Golden Sixty – with the help of a heady tactical ride by Vincent Ho – got the better of Romantic Warrior in the Stewards’ Cup.
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 29, 2023
That was at a mile, Golden Sixty’s pet distance, where his turn-of-foot and sprint was too sharp for Romantic Warrior. This time they square off at Romantic Warrior’s best trip and Teetan needs to make sure he rides his horse like the best 2000m horse in the race. Teetan must use his horse’s superior stamina to nullify his rival’s best asset.
Ho’s Stewards’ Cup ride showed how far he has come tactically and I assume there will be a fascinating game of cat-and-mouse. Golden Sixty will be tracking Romantic Warrior everywhere he goes and if Teetan can take his key rival into the deep end and make it an endurance test, he should come out on top.
Wide draw the Point for Classic Cup play
First of all, surely Voyage Bubble doesn’t get the same breaks he and jockey Jamie Kah got in the Classic Mile and a soft lead in front.
In a wide-open Hong Kong Classic Cup, I am leaning towards Sword Point – plus his in-form jockey Hugh Bowman – for whom I don’t think a wide draw is a disadvantage.
Sword Point has drawn barrier 13 but I would rather he be drawn wide than have gate one and be tied up on the rail. That is what happened in the Classic Mile, but this time Bowman can come with one sweeping run.
Bring on the Hong Kong Classic Cup! 💪
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 23, 2023
Another factor is ‘Classic Cup specialist’ Frankie Lor, who has won two of the last three editions of the race. Lor delivered longshot winners in 2020 and 2021 with Mission Tycoon ($92) and Happy Healthy ($22). Sword Point may not get out to those odds but the wide draw, while not being a hindrance, should just ensure a nice price.
Is the Hong Kong Derby winner even in the ‘Derby trial’? Earlier in the day Beauty Eternal can further his claim on Derby favouritism in a 1600m Class 2 (100-75).
Beauty Eternal steps up to a mile for the first time against eight rivals. The impressive ease of his last start win means he will start very short odds. If you are looking for a Quinella play, look to Mr Ascendancy.
J-Mac links with Lucky
Zac Purton’s dominance means he has to make difficult decisions in big races and he has made another tough call to go with Califronia Spangle over Lucky Sweynesse in next month’s Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
That decision has opened the opportunity for James McDonald to jet in to take the ride.
Purton admits “there isn’t much between the two horses at 1400m.”
“I just think California Spangle might be the stronger horse right now at that distance,” Purton told Asian Racing Report.
Purton is never afraid to speak his mind, which is to be admired, but was his extraordinary verbal broadside aimed at Chief Steward Marc Van Gestel during the week a sign that the Australian jockey’s retirement is getting closer?
And if Purton did leave Hong Kong, would McDonald in turn see an opportunity to move to Sha Tin, or is he happy getting the best of both worlds?
Maybe the fact McDonald can ride the best horses in Australia on a Saturday, and then take a business class flight to be on the back of the best in Hong Kong 14 hours later will mean he will remain in Sydney.
Andrew's Best Bets
Race 3 QUINELLA 3-9 Mr Ascendancy-Beauty Eternal
Race 8 No.8 S J Tourbillon
Race 9 No.9 Sword Point