Hong Kong expert Graham Cunningham marks your card for Sunday's action live on Sky Sports Racing.
HK might as well stand for Hokey Kokey after another week of dramatic ins and outs.
In-form Zac Purton was ruled out of Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting, along with French rider Antoine Hamelin, due to a second positive Covid test in recent weeks.
Both riders are back in for Sunday’s Sha Tin card but Ruan Maia and recent Aussie import Jye McNeil will both be out as their Covid isolation extends until next week.
Matthew Chadwick’s fine form has earned him a place in next week’s International Jockeys’ Championship at the Valley and he is clearly out to make a mark after a Valley treble on Wednesday, while Kiwi handler Jamie Richards had been out of luck recently but bounced back with a first Valley double in front of visiting family.
Meanwhile, the man who could yet emerge as a possible replacement for the departing Joao Moreira continued an impressive run with a brace of his own.
Hugh Bowman is out to prove a point on a short-term contract – and the way he steered the bang-in-form Nearly Fine from last to first through heavy traffic in the nightcap suggests that Purton won’t be having things all his own way in the next few weeks.
Danny Shum gave Bowman the first leg of his midweek double and it’s notable that the pair combine again in Sunday’s Sha Tin feature when MAJESTIC STAR contests the featured Salisbury Handicap at 9.45.
This Class 2 AW dash is every bit as strong as you would expect with £272,000 on offer and the freewheeling Campione and vastly improved Super Win Dragon are bound to be high on most short lists.
Galaxy Witness is another to note on his dirt debut but Majestic Star was commanding over course and distance in October and ran another solid race when fourth at the Valley last month. A powerful gelding and one of the biggest units in town at over 1300lb, he’s drawn well on the inside and might just progress again with Bowman aboard for the first time.
Current champion trainer Frankie Lor remains one ahead of Tony Cruz atop the trainers’ table and A Pal’s runaway 1400m success four weeks ago will ensure he corners a major chunk of the market under Derek Leung for the Nathan Handicap at 9.10.
A 10lb hike surely won’t stop this progressive youngster going close again but this is a race with a fair each way shape and ALL RICHES looks primed to give Silvestre de Sousa a good spin as he returns from his latest suspension.
Ricky Yiu’s gelding ended last season with two decisive Class 4 successes from the front and showed that he’s very comfortable in Class 3 on his latest start, pestered up front and blazing through the first 600m in 35s dead under Leung and doing very well to stick on for second in the circumstances.
Leung was never likely to desert A Pal but SDS looks a more than able deputy and All Riches can give the jolly all the trouble he can handle provided his energy is channelled more evenly.
Sunday’s Humphreys Handicap at 8.05 features several hardy AW regulars and the key question is whether the HK handicappers have done enough to stop the Lor-trained True Legend from defying a 13lb hike for a dominant course and distance romp.
The six-year-old appeared to hit a clear career high at the 27th attempt three weeks ago, charging clear a long way out under 10lb claimer Angus Chung, but wide margin AW wins aren’t always everything they seem at first blush and it would come as no surprise if the horse who chased him home proves a much more serious threat this time around.
YES WE CAN lined on the back of two handsome AW wins that day but McNeil got caught in a pocket on his Sha Tin debut day as True Legend rolled for home on the final bend. De Sousa can be relied on to secure smoother transit this time and, aided by an 11lb pull with his old rival, Yes We Can looks a fair bet to continue Benno Yung’s excellent AW record.
8.05: Yes We Can
9.10: All Riches (EW)
9.45: Majestic Star
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