Graham Cunningham marks your card for Sunday's Sha Tin action live on Sky Sports Racing.
Various things are brewing in the HK jockey ranks as we approach the final G1 weekend of the season.
Silvestre de Sousa has confirmed that he is hoping to return to his former happy hunting ground later this year, while Joao Moreira is back from a two-meeting ban with a full book of eleven rides at Sha Tin this Sunday.
Zac Purton will be frustrated to have ridden only two winners during the Magic Man’s absence but the hottest jockey in town right now is Lyle Hewitson, who continued his hot streak with a Wednesday double at Happy Valley that cemented a burgeoning link with fellow South African Douglas Whyte.
Senor Toba is a stayer on the rise
Whyte links up with Aussie star Blake Shinn in Sunday’s Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (8.00) and this £1.2m staying test is a tough race to read.
Last year’s winner Panfield is high-class but tricky to catch right and he and several others in Sunday’s field could have been covered by a small blanket when chasing home Romantic Warrior in the QEII Cup over 2000m last month.
SENOR TOBA has plenty to find on ratings but he’s improving fast and set to progress again over the 2400m trip that suits him so well, while Whyte’s stable star RUSSIAN EMPEROR hasn’t built on the form he showed to bolt up on a wet track in the HK Gold Cup but will be a danger to all if the forecast for further rain proves accurate.
Sunday’s Sha Tin Vase (9.35) is every bit as fiery as a £370,000 sprint handicap ought to be and again it looks worth taking two against the field in the hope of snagging the winner.
Shinn can’t do the weight on CORDYCEPS SIX but Richard Gibson’s gelding has been improving from race to race this season, most recently when coming from well back to finish second in a strong Class 2.
His turn of foot ought to make him highly competitive under Alexis Badel on his first venture into G3 company, while SUPER WEALTHY has been giving his all against the best around for a good while now and the fact that Purton is aboard for the first time in over a year suggests that he might find that little bit extra needed to land a big one.
Purton’s presence on the NZ Guineas runner-up Bourbonaire in the Viva Pataca Handicap (10.10) is notable, first because John Size’s gelding looks on the up and second because the Aussie has ridden several key rivals of late including Leading Fortune and Rise Brethren.
MALDIVES is another former Purton partner - and the five-year-old has probably tried his patience with a string of narrow defeats - but it’s hard to look at the five-year-old’s finishing effort and think he is ducking the issue.
On the contrary, Maldives came home powerfully when pipped under a patient steer from Shinn here last month and the step up from 1400m to a mile looks set to suit him well.
Sunday’s Sha Tin Selections
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