By News Team
22nd May 2020
Exultant is the one almost everyone is expecting to come home in front at Sha Tin on Sunday, as Hong Kong’s star stayer looks set to line up as a red-hot favourite for the day’s showpiece, the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup.
That race is surrounded by a number of highly valuable handicaps, and with the jockeys’ title fight between Joao Moreira and Zac Purton proving hugely exciting there’s plenty worth watching on Sunday morning.
Sole can start off on the right foot
Before the big Group 1 feature, 14 go to post for the £100,000 Helene Star Handicap (8:35am). It’s a mix of exciting newcomers and young but fairly exposed gallopers, and the eye is immediately drawn to Yee Cheong Pegasus.
The Tony Millard-trained son of Lonhro has suffered a bout of ‘seconditus’ this season, being runner-up on four of his five starts, but the feeling is this race may be a touch weaker.
Based on those previous efforts he has every chance of going one better but Moreira deserts him to ride newcomer SELL MY SOLE.
Much of his ability is taken on chance, though not all of it thanks to a couple of promising recent trials. Two trials back he came home very strongly under Moreira and it looks as though master trainer John Size has slowly been bringing him to the boil for this.
Savvy Moreira will give Exultant a run for his money
Hong Kong doesn’t have a gutsier horse over 10 or 12 furlongs and, given there are no oversees challengers in the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (9:05am) this year, the only thing potentially holding Exultant back is his advancing age.
His third place result in the Irish 2000 Guineas three years ago seems a long time ago now, when running under the name of Irishcorrespondent for Mick Halford, and that run behind Churchill and Thunder Snow clearly put him in good stead for a lucrative career in HK.
The son of Teofilo is seeking a fifth Group 1 and he’s head and shoulders above his six rivals, though the presence of four John Moore-trained horses could see things get a bit tactical.
No doubt Moore will have a plan for the race, and with Moreira sitting atop SAVVY NINE, you can expect him to be the one causing the favourite the most problems.
In the Group 3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup he settled nicely early-on under Moreira, but it ended up being a lacklustre gallop and he ended up with way too much ground to make up in the final few furlongs.
Exultant loves a stamina test so you can expect stablemate Time Warp to set a good gallop and that could suit Savvy Nine, who’s yet to really be tested at this 1m4f trip. Exultant is by far the most likely winner, but as we saw in the Hong Kong Gold Cup, he’s not unbeatable…
Transcendent’s time to shine
The closing £200,000 Class 2 Viva Pataca Handicap (10:50am) looks a cracking renewal and there’s one very interesting horse in the mix. From winning on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield to the high stakes of Hong Kong, TRANSCENDENT has been a good horse to follow.
Punters are never too quick to pile in on the former France-based galloper as his form is patchy, but that’s mainly because he’s a hold-up horse who requires a bit of luck in running.
Having raced five wide throughout for the duration of his last start, Matthew Chadwick was forced to use up his energy far too early and he eventually faded out the back of the screen.
Put a line through that and expect the Magic Man Moreira to get him settled coming out of gate eight before producing him late to land the lucky last.