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Sha Tin Champions Day: the three big questions

Who is under the most pressure coming into Sunday's Group 1 triple-header at Sha Tin? According to Michael Cox, it's the trainer of one of Champions Day's dominant local favourites.

Hong Kong is a high-pressure jurisdiction like no other, but ahead of Sunday’s Champions Day meeting at Sha Tin, which participants should be under the most scrutiny?

“I think trainer Danny Shum is under a bit of pressure,” said Cox on Asian Racing Report’s video preview of one of the Hong Kong season’s biggest meetings, which will see standout local hopes in Lucky Sweynesse (Chairman’s Sprint Prize), Golden Sixty (Champions Mile) and the Shum-trained Romantic Warrior (QE II Cup) seek to stave off a host of international challengers.

“(Romantic Warrior) will start favourite again in the QE II Cup… We always talk about horses being under pressure, we talk about jockeys especially being under pressure, but I think rarely do we look at market expectation and performance, as pundits, and say ‘this trainer’s under pressure.'”

“This horse was spectacular in the Jockey Club Cup first-up, 2000 metres, went massive again to all the ratings experts out there in the Hong Kong Cup on International Day, but then has been rolled twice when the market says he should have run better. No excuses given, just ‘the horse wasn’t at his best’.

“Well, that’s just saying that the trainer didn’t have the horse right on the day. That’s Danny Shum’s job,” Cox asserted.

“The horse is going to start favourite again, and is going to have some pretty serious opposition, maybe stronger than on International Day.”

Cox also pointed to the recent jockey change for Romantic Warrior, with fly-in rider James McDonald being preferred to Hong Kong-based Karis Teetan, as further evidence that the buck must stop with Shum come Sunday.

Cox and Asian Racing Report’s Chief Journalist David Morgan also provided their takes on which international raiders might be best equipped to topple the trio of odds-on Hong Kong-trained feature race favourites, as well as the tactical curveball the presence of shock Hong Kong Derby winner Voyage Bubble might present in the G1 Champions Mile.

This week’s discussion:

‘Champions Day’ in name only? (0:00); Who is under the most pressure going into Sunday? Coxy ‘names names’ (3:05); The Group 1 most likely to bring about an international upset? (5:11); The case for Dubai Honour (G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup) (6:16); The case for Geraldina (G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup) (8:14); The local ‘dark horse’ that could impact Zac Purton’s G1 Mile tactics on California Spangle (11:25); Give the people what they want: “let’s get Golden Sixty to Japan” (17:45).

Watch ‘Sha Tin Champions Day 2023: the three big questions’:




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