LJ Confidential: three ‘match races’ headline Hong Kong’s Champions Day
The three Group 1s at Sha Tin on Sunday loom as two-horse races, but that doesn’t dull what should be some exciting contests with plenty at stake.
Hong Kong’s Champions Day features three big Group 1s, three dominant local favourites and a clear challenger in each race to make things interesting.
Despite some depth, quality and intrigue in each event, I see the three features as match races. Let’s break each race down, and take a look at a high quality contest on the undercard.
QEII Cup: Romantic Warrior v Dubai Honour
Australia’s leading jockey James McDonald is no stranger to pressure and he returns to the Romantic Warrior hot seat for the QEII Cup.
McDonald rode Romantic Warrior in his first two wins of the season, the second a breathtaking performance in the G1 Hong Kong Cup.
Karis Teetan was then beaten twice aboard the horse and now McDonald gets back aboard. Will that make the difference? If Romantic Warrior can replicate his run from December he will be very difficult to beat but I am tipping an upset.
Dubai Honour is my pick after two wins in Australia. Let’s not forget he has been to Sha Tin before as well and ran a solid fourth over this course and distance.
The two big Group 1 wins in Sydney, by a combined seven lengths, suggests he has returned to Hong Kong a better horse.
The Japanese bring a strong group including Geraldina and Prognosis, but Danon The Kid is my pick of the group and I think he can fill third place behind Dubai Honour and Romantic Warrior.
Chairman’s Sprint Prize: Lucky Sweynesse v Wellington
Wellington won on International Day but since then it has been 3-0 to Lucky Sweynesse. The barrier draw – Wellington in gate two and Lucky Sweynesse from barrier six – gives Zac Purton an advantage on Lucky Sweynesse.
Last time they clashed in the G2 Sprint Cup, Alexis Badel was closer from an inside draw, only to be stalked by Purton aboard the favourite, who proved too strong.