Michael Cox



The Sha Tin Report – September 11

Michael Cox takes a look at Sunday's ten-race season opener at Sha Tin.

Rail position:

Track: Good 

Weather: Maximum 32 degrees. Mainly cloudy with a few showers. Sunny intervals during the day.

New Season, New Face

Success isn’t guaranteed for the newest face in the Sha Tin jockeys’ room, apprentice Angus Chung, but what seems a safe bet is that he will inject some more speed into races. 

Apprentices start off with ten pounds in Hong Kong – ’half a class’ as is often said – and common belief, rightly or wrongly, is that the claim is better used rolling along in front. 

The simple tactics might have more to do with new riders not having the experience to navigate the traffic in a 14-horse ruck at Sha Tin, but being on-pace is where the apprentices are directed. 

Chung’s best quality back in South Australia – where he rode 77 winners in just over two years  – was his patience, but he won’t be asked to use that attribute much under new boss Tony Cruz, who loves his horses to race on the speed, and who will be imploring his new claimer ‘to let ‘em roll’ as often as possible. 

Chung’s first ride is for Michael Chang in the opening race aboard Star Of Glory, a horse that broke through with a change of tactics late last season. Expect more of the same here, and for as long as Chung has the ‘minus 10’ next to his name. 

The Main Event

Chief Executive’s Cup (Class 1), Race 4

The 20-pound weight spread in Hong Kong racing creates some intriguing puzzles for punters and the opening day feature sprint is no exception. 

At the top of the weights with 135 pounds sits a Group 1 winner, Sky Field, and at the bottom with 115 is Lucky Sweynesse, a four-year-old that rocketed up 46 points in the ratings last season. 

There is plenty of talent in between as well, including two runners for rookie trainer Pierre Ng, Lucky Patch and Duke Wai.


Sky Field scores at Sha Tin. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit /Getty Images)

It's A Big Day For

David Hayes, who made some bold claims ahead of last season, his second since returning, suggesting he would be contending again. 

His 2021-22 campaign had its share of bad luck but finishing tenth with 36 wins was a disappointment all the same. 

He heads to the season opener looking to make a statement: the two-time champion has nine runners but the biggest expectation will come from the fact he has champion jockey Zac Purton booked on four of them. 

With Moreira absent, punters will zero in on Purton’s mounts and it will shape markets.

Hayes needs results to reassure the masses – and owners – that he is still the trainer they came to love. 

The Stat

John Size has six runners, more than usual at this time of the season for the notoriously slow starter. Three of them are Class 3 horses, which is significant. Size has 28 horses eligible to run in Class 3 and it will be a juggling act to find them races at the right times.

From The Trials

No prizes for electing Danny Shum’s first-starter Victor The Winner in Race 3 as one to watch after two smart trial performances. He showed gate speed and was strong through the line. 

Class 5 Strive For Glory was given a tune-up by Zac Purton in a dirt trial just over a week ago. He looks to be forward for his second crack in cellar grade. Watch the market for another from the same trial: stable transfer Handsome Guys (Me Tsui to Caspar Fownes) was putrid in six starts last term, and he may need to drop more in the ratings, but gets the advantage of a low draw. 

The Race Of The Day

Tai Mo Shan Handicap (Class 2), Race 9

Sauvestre and The Golden Scenery both look like horses destined to climb into triple figures but there are some other interesting runners including one-time Classic Mile favourite Packing Victory (see D-Day). Tony Cruz has thrown the cat among the pigeons by deploying his new ten-pound claimer Angus Chung on California Deepshot, the likely leader, which drops in grade after some off-season ratings relief. 

The jury is out on Packing Victory. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit /Getty Images)


Glory Bo Bo – It might seem harsh to have a three-year-old second-starter on the list, but the way the sprinter capitulated late as 1.3 favourite on debut was a worry. Gelded since. 

Beauty Tycoon – Unlucky at times as a three-year-old, sure, but gets the draw and race to breakthrough. 

Packing Victory – A PPG that won four from six last season  and then finished last as favourite in the 2022 Classic Mile. Diagnosed as a roarer, and operated on, he failed again in May.

Notable Gear Changes

Starry Night (Race 6) – Blinkers on first-time

Tempest Express (Race 10) – Blinkers back on



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