Today’s Race of the Day from Sha Tin is the featured 7th Race: the Class 1 Kwantung Handicap Cup over 1400M. It’s a solid field top-to-bottom, with a couple who are running back quickly on 1 week’s rest. In the early betting, Winner’s Way and Magic Legend are taking most of the action – let’s see if there’s anyone else in here that can create some value for us.
#1 Horse of Fortune – A hard knocking 7 year old with 6 wins never gets much help from his handicap, but has proven his ability to carry an impost and beat some of the best horses in Hong Kong. He disappointed on closing day in Sha Tin, but prior to that, took a Grade 3 and finished a good 2nd with a 102 speed figure in a class 1. From a trainer statistics perspective, the outlook isn’t great with Millard low percentage off this kind of layoff and in the first start of the season. Still, on his day, he has a shot in the 15-1 to 20-1 range
#2 Romantic Touch – Moreira takes the mount, so we have to take notice. He mixed it up with the very best in Hong Kong last season, but didn’t come away with any wins, and is still just 2 for 36 lifetime. It seems fair to wonder if he might be tailing off a bit at 7 years old, but he does have the tactical speed to be well placed for Moreira. Tony Cruz’s trainer stats are fair for this spot, but it doesn’t quite look like his best race is good enough to beat the top choices in here, and with the Moreira premium, he feels like an underlay.
#3 Winner’s Way – The current favorite put things together late in the season, and progressed from Class 3 to Class 1 by the end of the season. He dominated a Class 2, then went wire to wire again for a Class 1. On June 25th, only a freak performance by The Wizard of Oz prevented him from scoring his first stakes race. In terms of speed figures, he is the rare Hong Kong horse who can bang out triple digit figures, and may find a comfortable lead for Purton. As mentioned for Romantic Touch, Cruz can get them ready early in the meet. Rock solid and deserving favorite.
#4 Magic Legend – The 2nd choice in the betting ran a great race one week ago for John Moore and Tommy Berry. Though he was 4th, the early indications are that that race was live (2nd place finisher Blizzard is off to Japan to compete in a G1). As a southern hemisphere 4 year old, he may be improving and peaking for this. 2-back, he was a half-length behind Winner’s Way at this class and distance, but picks up 7 pounds against that effort. Then there is this stat: when starting a horse on less than 10 days rest, John Moore is 6-for-24, with a 102% flat bet ROI. If he improves at all on last week’s start, he’s a bi danger and would be no surprise.
#5 Marvel Hero – Try this: cross out this runner’s last start, where he went 2200 and faltered in the stretch: it wouldn’t be difficult to make a case for him being a rapidly improving late bloomer. 2 back, he absolutely destroyed a Class 1 field (albeit with a light weight) and earned a 106 speed figure, which would probably be good enough for this. With that said, he likely wants more ground than he’ll get here, and Casper Fownes using the low % apprentice adds to the perception that this may be a prep for something longer next out. Still, he’ll be 25-1 or longer, and it seems like a mistake to toss him completely.
#6 Jolly Banner – Here’s another hard knocking contender who enters this off of a nice campaign last season. He also exits the 6/25 Grade 3, and while he ran behind Winners’ Way and Magic Legend that day, he had a bit of trouble in the stretch and wasn’t beaten by much. He’s fairly lightly raced for a 6YO, and could be figuring things out. He may a shade behind the top 2, but has a favorable weight assignment and rates a genuine upset glance.
#7 Supreme Profit – Currently the longest shot on the board, this 7 year old won a grade 3 last season and is a 9 time winner in Hong Kong. After the G3 win in February, the form took a turn for the worse, however, with declining speed figures and series on non-competitive finishers. Add to that that this race looks well below his preferred, and he has the look of an outsider.
#8 Solar Hei Hei – The popular runner steps up from Class 2 for this and picks up hot apprentice Matthew Poon and so will carry just 106 pounds. You don’t win 7 of 27 by accident, and there are a few speed figures on the page that would be competitive in this, but this does seem like a stretch on his overall class. He ran a solid 2nd in a class 2 just a week ago, but these are much tougher. Even with the feather weight tonight, he looks in over his head.
Who do you like?