Hong Kong expert Graham Cunningham has all the best bets for Sunday's Sha Tin card live on Sky Sports Racing as Golden Sixty headlines the action.
There isn’t a horse on the planet who represents the pandemic era more perfectly than Golden Sixty.
January 2020: Francis Lui’s gelding breaks into the big time in the Classic Mile as HK racing goes behind closed doors for the first time.
January 2022: Thirteen wins later – including a Derby and five G1s – Golden Sixty bids to match Silent Witness’s record of seventeen consecutive victories on Sunday as HK comes full circle with gates closed to all bar essential personnel.
The golden boy of HK racing, set to be ranked upsides the world’s best milers again when the Longines ratings for 2021 are revealed shortly, had a few anxious moments in a slowly-run race before asserting in last year’s Stewards’ Cup.
Tactics could play a part again in Sunday’s £1.13m showpiece (due off at 8.05 on Sky Sports Racing) but the champ always finds a way and the only real punting question is which horse to link him with for Quinella purposes.
More Than This and Waikuku have seen Golden Sixty’s backside seven and four times respectively. The former had the edge in the HK Mile but Waikuku endured a tough trip and, with Zac Purton back aboard, John Size’s gelding is the safest Q candidate.
Set the alarm early if you want to see Sunday’s other G1 as the Centenary Sprint Cup jumps at 6am with any number of potential storylines.
Master Eight moves from G3 to elite level after an unbeaten streak of five but he’s hard to fancy on ratings from a wide gate, while Hot King Prawn seems to have lost a step since winning this last year and stablemate Courier Wonder has tons of ability but a worrying habit of wandering when things get tough.
All things considered, SKY FIELD and WELLINGTON are the pair to focus on. Sky Field was lucky to avoid a pile-up when winning the HK Sprint last month but is a genuine G1 performer who is sure to go close again, while Wellington looked very good when landing the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize last spring and is best forgiven his two defeats since.
Joao Moreira’s flying start to 2022 came to a jarring halt at Happy Valley on Wednesday thanks to a six-meeting ban – by far the longest of his HK career – for failing to ride hot favourite Zone D out to the satisfaction of the stewards.
The Magic Man’s absence for most of February breathes vital life into Purton’s dreams of beating his great rival to a fifth championship and the duo have ten and nine rides respectively on a Sunday card that features several handicappers to note.
Joao partners a potentially useful newcomer when Jumbo Fortune lines up for the Aerovelocity Handicap at 7.00 and the fact that Tony Cruz’s gelding split Wellington and Golden Sixty in a recent trial won’t be missed in the market.
Purton’s presence aboard the consistent Excellent Daddy is another point of interest but ROCK YA HEART looks the each way value for this £150,000 dash.
Francis Lui’s gelding disappointed on his first visit to Happy Valley last time but his previous two runs represent very solid form. A recent trial win suggests Rock Ya Heart is back in good nick and he tops the list of Quinella options with Vincent Ho aboard.
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