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Davis Files : Sha Tin Preview - 10th December 2023

3 minute read

Brett Davis provides exclusive preview of Sha Tin races.

Sha Tin Racecourse.
Sha Tin Racecourse. Picture: HKJC





R1 - 6,10,2,3,13

R2 - 5,3,9,4,7

R3 - 9,5,3,10,12

Race 4
"LONGINES"HONG KONG VASE(Gp 1 - 2400m - Set Weights)

#8 LEBENSSTIL is a rising star of world racing and according to rival jockey Damian Lane, a group one winner in waiting who's indicated that he will win multiple group ones. The Japanese three-year-old has won three of his six career starts and was impressive in landing the St.Lite Kinen at Nakayama, where he quickened up well to score decisively. Joao Moreira was in the saddle that day and retains the ride as he seeks his fourth win in the Vase. While barrier seven looks awkward on paper, the Magic Man will have plenty of time to get across into an off pace or midfield position. He's an exciting horse on the rise and with his profile plus what's been said about him during the week, this could well be the start of his rise to the top.
#9 WARM HEART is a classy filly from Aidan O'Brien's stable who's proven herself at the highest level this year with wins in the Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille. More recently, the daughter of Galileo has proven that she can travel abroad and perform well after running a brave second to top mare INSPIRAL in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mares Turf.She'll step up to 2400m for Sunday's assignment, which O'Brien has indicated is a more suitable distance for her, while it's also significant that Ryan Moore has taken the ride at the light weight of 117lbs. From barrier one, Moore should give her every chance off the speed and come with his run whenever he likes. She's is likely to play a prominent role in the finish.
#3 ZEFFIRO is a remarkably consistent horse from Japan, who will be ridden by last year's Vase winning jockey, Damian Lane. The colt by DEEP IMPACT won the group two Copa Republica Argentina last time out, a lead up race for the Japan Cup, where he had to overcome some issues in the run, getting shuffled back near the home turn before weaving his way through to salute. Prior to that, he ran well at Tokyo behind Hong Kong Cup contender ROUSHAM PARK and proven elite performer, TITLE HOLDER.He's drawn ideally in barrier two and rarely runs a bad race, so he's likely to make his presence felt.
#1 JUNKO will fly the flag for France and deserves plenty of respect, given that he's trained by Andre Fabre, who's won this race twice and knows the right horse to bring to Hong Kong.The four-year-old has won two of his last three starts and secured his inaugural group one win last time out in Germany. He's also ticked the travelling box, as he wasn't beaten far by LORD NORTH in this year's Dubai Turf at Meydan in March. From barrier one, expect jockey Maxime Guyon to gradually cross over, lead and be in it for a long way.
#4 FIVE G PATCH has an enormous amount of talent and staying ability and despite his poor effort recently he's in pretty good shape this campaign.Alexis Badel jumped back aboard last start, with Hugh Bowman on the injured list, and the pair got involved in a speed battle through the initial stages.It ended up a total forget performance but there was plenty to like about his run prior, after a wide draw cost him lengths in the run.He'd be better suited by a 3200m race, however the key is to ride him quiet early, so he finds the line.

Selections: 8,9,3,1,4

Race 5
"LONGINES"HONG KONG SPRINT(Gp 1 - 1200m - Set Weights)

#1 LUCKY SWEYNESSE was given ten day's off during the off season break but it's been business as usual ever since for Hong Kong's super star sprinter.Admittedly, he was worked conservatively leading in to his seasonal return when unable to cut back VICTOR THE WINNER on a yielding track.He then tasted a narrow defeat second up behind SIGHT SUCCESS, in a tactical encounter, as the short price 1.40 favourite.After a sluggish beginning, he recently showed everyone who's boss in the Gp 2 Jockey Club Sprint with an awesome final 400m blitz.He's now at his peak for a second crack at the Gp 1 Hong Kong International Sprint, a race he arguably should have won last year, so if he jumps with intent it's hard to see this edition slipping away.
#10 HIGHFIELD PRINCESS arrives to Hong Kong fully tuned and ready to roll after dodging the Breeder's Cup Turf Sprint in favour of this classic contest.With four Gp 1 wins, at varying distance, and an official International rating of 117, she's up there with the top echelon of British sprinters to have ever competed in this coveted Group One event.The northern hemisphere sprinters, as the history books suggest, generally fall short of what's required, but she's settled in fabulously well and has done nothing but impress during her morning works.She'll race handy but need luck to slot in from gate 9, if she does, she'll be right there at the pointy end.
#5 VICTOR THE WINNER shall meet LUCKY SWEYNESSE worse off at the weights for his victory in the Chief Executive's Cup but remains a runner to collar once they turn for home.Trainer Danny Shum has left nothing to chance by giving his charger a thorough and rigorous preparation for the season's feature sprint, and there'll be no excuses regarding fitness and wellbeing should he get run down.With Japanese challenger JASPER KRONE, a noted speed machine drawn wider out, the early mayhem shall probably bring him undone, however, he is still progressing and has the home ground advantage.
#2 WELLINGTON hasn't won since his memorable victory in the Gp 1 Hong Kong Sprint last year when cutting down SIGHT SUCCESS to score.It was his fourth Gp 1 victory, and the highlight of an incredible career, before an unsuccessful trip to Royal Ascot and lengthy spell followed.He returned to racing under the care of new trainer Jamie Richards with an excellent chasing defeat, which created plenty of chatter.LUCKY SWEYNESSE did have his measure on four occasions nevertheless before he travelled to England, and again first up, so he'll need to find extra lengths if he's to make it back to back.
#3 MAD COOL won a listed handicap at Nakayama in April this year before enjoying a well deserved rest.His score sheet read five wins from seven starts at that point of his career, before excuses were justified in his return to racing in early July.He was then thrown in the deep end of the Gp 1 Sprinters Stakes last start, where he went within a whisker of victory, over arguably Japan's current best sprinter MAMA COCHA.He's bounced around with a touch of swagger all week leading up and definitely holds the X-Factor key to the outcome of this great race.
Selections : 1,10,5,2,3

R6 - 10,2,3,1,7

Race 7
"LONGINES"HONG KONG MILE(Gp 1 - 1600m - Set Weights)

#1 GOLDEN SIXTY returns to the Sha Tin race track today for what shall be his final LONGINES Hong Kong International Mile attempt.With twenty five wins in total from twenty nine starts, nine of which hold Group 1 status, there is nothing left to prove for the almighty King Of Kong.It'll be hope and admiration the spills onto the track, via the local vocal crowd, as he makes his way to the start in search of a third HKIR Mile win.However, when marble fourteen popped out as the barrier to which he must exit from, a murmuring echo of angst was heard across the country.Yes, it's a massive hurdle to jump along with a first up tag of eight months, but champions don't get nervy about all that technical stuff, they just go out and race, before generally getting it done.
#7 BEAUTY ETERNAL following seven wins last season was the talk of the town leading into the Gp2 Sha Tin Trophy first up, but was turned over by the front running power of CALIFORNIA SPANGLE.The 5yo son of STARSPANGLEDBANNER weighed in at 1205lbs on that occasion, which was as heavy as he's ever been, but has since trimmed himself back after two subsequent runs.He's now spot on for his biggest and most challenging assignment with a low barrier draw assisting his prospects well.He should find the additional length on what he dished out last start which ultimately gets him over the line, provided GOLDEN SIXTY doesn't rock up.
#2 CALIFORNIA SPANGLE enjoyed two strong trials leading into his seasonal return where he ran the opposition completely into the ground.He worked early from the wide draw, carried the big weight and was still tenacious enough to win.He's was better drawn with a handy pull in the weights in the recent Gp 2 Jockey Club Mile, but the second up syndrome and frantic first half completed barbecued him before entering the home straight.If he bounces back, which last year's winner of this particular race is likely to do, then it'll take a super effort to cut him down through the final 200m.
#5 SOUL RUSH is one of five Japanese horses attempting to win the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and in the process follow in the footsteps of greats ADMIRE MARS, MAURICE, HAT TRICK and EISHIN PRESTON.The international handicaps suggest DIVINA is the least likely to get involved but the remaining four are pretty much on parity, pound for pound.Therefore, with a solid week on the track behind him, a relaxed attitude and demeanour and the skills plus booking of former Hong Kong based jockey Joao Moreira, he's likely to run well.
#8 BEAUTY JOY is an established and respected high class galloper and his mere presence in any contest makes him worthy of respect.
The weight swing of 12lbs from his first up fourth in the Gp 3 Celebration Cup is worthy of note.A poor beginning in the Gp 2 Sha Tin Trophy then put and end to his winning prospects, however his last 800m was gritty considering the race shape.He then ran BEAUTY ETERNAL to within a lip of defeat in the traditional lead up, the Gp 2 Jockey Club Cup, after literally being detached from the field through the first half.He's an enigmatic type that but must be respected.
Selections : 1,7,2,5,8

Race 8
"LONGINES"HONG KONG CUP(Gp 1 - 2000m - Set Weights)
#3 PROGNOSIS is a lightly raced thoroughbred that's very much still on the rise. The Japanese galloper didn't have much luck at his latest visit to Hong Kong in the Gp 1 QEII Cup, where he was held up at a vital stage before finishing strongly to run second behind Romantic Warrior. In his two runs since then, he's won the Gp 2 Sapporo Kinen, a very strong race for that grade, and then ran third to the world's best racehorse EQUINOX in the Gp 1 Tenno Sho Autumn. He possesses an extremely potent turn of foot, should get the race run to suit, and is extremely capable of winning this fascinating contest.
#1 LUXEMBOURG has been a high-class galloper from the beginning of his career, winning the Gp 1 Futurity Trophy as a two-year-old and then adding another two group ones to his CV after that.The international ratings suggest that he's on par with ROMANTIC WARRIOR and his form through Europe's best middle-distance races is strong. That form has been franked too on the international stage, as he ran second to subsequent Breeders' Cup Turf winner Auguste Rodin in the Irish Champion Stakes last time out. The fact that he hasn't raced since September is also a positive as it means he hasn't been overly taxed this year, unlike a number of other European gallopers who travel to Sha Tin for this meeting. Barrier ten isn't ideal but if he can get across to a prominent position without doing too much work, he's sure to be there at the business end.
#2 ROMANTIC WARRIOR proved his world class ability with his thrilling last start triumph in the Cox Plate and is back on home soil to defend his crown in Hong Kong's richest race. The task won't be easy for him, given the challenges of international travel and the strength of this field, however, he has won a trial since his return and also indicated to jockey James McDonald in his subsequent work that he's further improved.He's an incredibly consistent, tough performer who's won four group ones, is tactically versatile and has one of the world's best jockeys on his back. This is arguably his toughest task to date and by no means is he unbeatable, but he's good enough to win and join the little grey CALIFORNIA MEMORY as a back-to-back winner of the race.
#11 HORIZON DORE is an emerging talent from France who's worked his way through the grades quickly in his home country. The three-year-old has won four of his last five starts and then acquitted himself well when third to KING OF STEEL in the Gp1 Champion Stakes at Ascot. That was on a wet track, but he's won previously on firmer going, which he'll encounter at Sha Tin. Significantly, the ratings have him just behind Romantic Warrior and Luxembourg and he's been amongst the better lookers during the week.There's no doubt he's a legitimate contender.
#4 ROUSHAM PARK has strong credentials from Japan and will be ridden by top Australian jockey, Damian Lane. The lightly raced four-year-old has won six of his last eight starts and defeated one of Japan's best middle-distance horses, TITLEHOLDER last time out in the Gp 2 Sankei Sho All Comers. It has been noted that he's not the best horse out of the gates and barrier eleven doesn't give him any assistance in this regard either. If he can overcome those obstacles, then he's got the quality to be somewhere thereabouts at the finish.

Selections: 3,1,2,11,4

R9 - 4,5,14,1,8

R10 - 10,5,11,9,7
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