By News Team
Last Updated: 24th April 2020
Racing fans across the world will be setting their alarms on Sunday morning as Sha Tin hosts one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious meetings – FWD Champions Day. With over £6million on offer for the Group One prizes and a further £1million on offer elsewhere on the card, it’s one of the richest racedays in the world as well as one of the biggest.
The highlights are undoubtably the three Group Ones – the QEII Cup, the Champions Mile and Chairman’s Sprint Prize – and with the likes of Beauty Generation set to line-up everything is in place for a cracking morning of top-class racing. Here’s our look ahead to the best of the action.
Chairman’s Sprint Prize: Prawn can sizzle his way to first Group One success
The opening top-level contest is the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (7:50am) and on paper it looks set to be an enthralling contest. John Moore’s Aethero and John Size’s HOT KING PRAWN are battling for favouritism, with the former predicted to gain an overdue Group One success.
The Denman gelding has raced 17 times in Hong Kong, finishing in the top-three on 16 occasions, including 10 wins. This season he has placed three times in Group 1s and has the opportunity to cap a return from colic surgery 14 months ago with victory in the six-furlong sprint. In the Sprint Cup last time, he was perhaps a tad unlucky as Joao Moreira met traffic problems in running and was forced to divert his mount inside. He ran on again to finish less than a length behind Voyage Warrior.
It was another fine run from one of the most consistent performers around and he showed he has the beating of this field when winning a Sha Tin handicap off top-weight back in March. The draw in stall one is perfect and he can give Moreira and Size back-to-back wins in the race.
Being a three-year-old, Aethero receives weight from his rivals and that means he’ll be a tough nut to crack. He was disappointing in the aforementioned Sprint Cup last time, though, and will need to be better here. That was off a break and he’ll surely come on for the run.
Champions Mile: Waikuku can spoil the Beauty Generation party
Fans and punters will be tuning in on Sunday morning with the majority hoping that Beauty Generation will emerge victorious in the Champions Mile (9:00am). The brilliant seven-year-old won 10 races in a row spanning across three seasons, including five Group Ones, but things haven’t quite gone to plan since for the world’s top-rated miler.
He was beaten four times in succession and although he has bounced back in his previous two runs, notably in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy earlier this month, he doesn’t look quite the force of old. Connections are adamant he is back to somewhere near his best, but to the naked eye he simply isn’t putting his races to the bed in the style he once did. As such, he needs to be taken on and the horse to do that with is WAIKUKU.
Admittedly, the son of Harbour Watch comes into this after a well below-par showing in that Chairman’s Trophy, but that was after a 77-day break and if you look back through his form he doesn’t seem to go as well after a prolonged period off the track. His trainer, Size, echoed those concerns and he looked much better when trialling impressively over six furlongs last week.
Before that race earlier this month, he had beaten Beauty Generation in all four of their previous meetings and you felt while his rival might have been on the downgrade, Waikuku was most certainly on the upgrade. If he’s anywhere near the form he’d shown for the rest of the season he should be too good.
Remaining races: Exultant, Wellington and War Of Courage fancied
The final Group One of the day is the QEII Cup (9:40am) and EXULTANT should win this comfortably. He was beaten by Time Warp last time, but he’s the best middle distance horse in Hong Kong and although he isn’t much of a price, he’ll take all the beating.
Elsewhere on the card, both WAR OF COURAGE and WELLINGTON are expected to defy hikes in the weights to win their respective handicaps.
The former goes in the Fairy King Prawn Handicap (6:15am) and although he’s gone up eight pounds in the handicap, he’s improving at a rate of knots. His form is solid with horses he has beaten coming out and winning subsequently and he can give the red-hot Chad Schofield yet another winner.
Wellington, meanwhile, can remain unbeaten in the Vengeance Of Rain Handicap (8:25am). Richard Gibson’s three-year-old is three from three in Hong Kong and its clear this is a horse with immense potential. Four horses he has beaten have won since and another handful have been placed, so Gibson must be licking his lips at the calibre of horse he might have on his hands. He’s up another 10 pounds here, meaning he carries top-weight in a class three contest, but he’ll surely be too good and can win again.