Racing

California Whip ready to get cracking

Hong Kong (Sha Tin) preview

RACE 1 (1,800M)

1 BEST REWARD drops into Class 5 for the first time and also makes his maiden attempt on the dirt. He has improved this season with the step-up in trip but has still been beaten comfortably. Zac Purton jumps aboard for the first time and this looks a perfect opportunity for him to break through.

12 VIVACIOUS WINNER gets a significant jockey upgrade from Kei Chiong to Joao Moreira after a fair last run at Happy Valley. He was just beaten on dirt a start before and looks well-suited in this event, so expect him primed here.

11 ATOMIC BLAST gets a better gate than he's been drawn recently and should be able to get into a good position from draw 4 with the step-up in trip.

8 GENTLEMEN was fair in his first attempt on dirt two starts back. With the experience, he can challenge here.

RACE 2 (1,650M)

13 SUPER EURO STAR has shown a couple of glimpses of form but nothing altogether endearing in seven starts. However, his two best efforts have come on this track. He might be in search of Class 5, but, with the step-up to 1,650m, he is one horse who could stick around for a fair while at the business end.

1 GRAND HARBOUR ran a terrific race last time out over the Happy Valley 1,650m, taking the field through some very strong mid-race sectionals, kicking clear and only finding Megatron too strong in the final stages. Moreira jumps aboard, and expect some fireworks early with the horse drawn 13.

12 EMPEROR VICTORY is another who could push forward from gate 2. He led at moderate fractions last time out and battled on well enough under Dylan Mo, so expect something similar under Jack Wong.

8 THE FULL BLOOM should appreciate getting onto the dirt for the first time and the removal of blinkers looks a positive with the step-up in trip. However, gate 14 will make his task that little more difficult.

RACE 3 (1,200M)

1 ORIONIDS has his second run in Class 4 here. He doesn't have any real change of gears, but he should be suited here if Dylan Mo can jump him out and he can dictate matters in front.

12 ART OF SUCCESS had not been tried over 1,200m, let alone around a bend, in almost three years before he finished a gallant second to Happy Happy Star last time out. He does have speed if they choose to engage it, and he should be able to sustain his speed on this surface.

6 GRADE ONE went within a short head of causing a big upset on debut. He just found Bond Elegance too strong, before he was burnt up as hot favourite at Happy Valley last time out. With a good draw and Zac Purton maintaining the ride, expect him to be around the mark again.

8 KIROV has been unsuited or luckless in a number of recent runs. He can find his way into the placings with even luck.

RACE 4 (1,800M)

4 GLENEALY PRIZE has only stepped beyond 1,400m once, finishing a distant last over a mile as he refused to stretch out, and he has solely raced on turf. Now, he switches to the 1,800m on dirt. It is a surface over which he has trialled well, and there are some indications he'll be suited stepping up in trip.

14 EQUITY DOCTRINE may be in search of the drop in grade, having won in Class 5 in November. However, his last couple of runs have been good and he does get a significant jockey upgrade from Alex Lai to Douglas Whyte. The step-up to 1,800m should suit him, too.

2 WORKS OF ART makes his dirt debut here, but he shapes as the right type of horse to switch to the dirt with his one-paced nature. With the right run, he'll be competitive.

3 SURE PEACE gets back and runs on strongly, and from gate 13, he is sure to do that again here. He's a chance again.

RACE 5 (1,200M)

11 BORN DRAGON won as stylishly as one can in Class 5 last time out, leading all the way over this course and distance. He looked to have more ability than his current rating early on in his Hong Kong career, and so he still rates as a strong chance at the bottom of Class 4 here, especially with Moreira aboard.

6 BOLSHOI BALLET has finished off strongly at his two runs on the dirt. Expect him to be finding the line powerfully again.

10 SALSA BROTHERS is another who has run some good races on this surface, with the five-year-old pouncing out to lead and sticking on solidly. He gets Zac Purton aboard, although he will have to navigate a path from gate 11.

2 HEARTS KEEPER is always a chance on this surface, especially with a kind draw. He is worth including.

RACE 6 (1,650M)

2 KING GENKI was brought to Hong Kong as a Derby horse, arriving as a Group 2 placegetter. He hasn't measured up to that level here but he did look good in his first run on this surface four starts back, leading with a light weight in Class 2 and just succumbing late. He has to carry 127 pounds (55.45kg), taking into account Alvin Ng's claim, but he should be able to get somewhere near the lead from the inside gate and be in this for a long way.

3 SKY KING is a giant horse who is racing in good form. He won over this course and distance two runs back before he finished a fair third over the Happy Valley 1,800m last time out. Don't be surprised to see him around the mark.

8 RED MARVEL is consistent but just lacks that killer instinct. From gate 12, he's likely to be in the mix without winning again.

13 ALLCASH may be one to throw in exotics. He is likely to find the 1,650m too short but he is a one-paced type who might be suited on the dirt. He should get a nice run behind the speed.

RACE 7 (1,200M)

6 STAR OF YAN OI is a winner-in-waiting on this surface after four strong efforts over this course and distance. After drawing wide last time out, he's suited by a soft draw here and this looks his chance to break through.

2 MEGA RED produced a big effort at his first run in eight months to edge out Most Beautiful 10 days back. With natural improvement, he should be around the mark yet again.

4 LANG TAI SING makes the transition to the dirt here, although he has trialled well on the surface in the past. He is racing well enough and he should get the right run here.

3 ARIZONA BLIZZARD has a bad temperament and get-back racing style but is worth including in the exotics.

RACE 8 (1,200M)

6 CALIFORNIA WHIP drops back in trip sharply just 10 days after he finished fifth to Rapper Dragon in the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, the Hong Kong Classic Cup over 1,800m. However, three starts back, he produced quite some performance to win a Class 3 over this course and distance. He looks to still have ratings points in hand and, with the right run, he can win this.

10 PERPETUAL TREASURE is a speedball who very rarely misses the board over the 1,200m on dirt. He might be on his mark but he does have Moreira aboard, which looks a plus.

4 ARCHIPPUS has been a model of consistency in recent starts, holding his own off a higher mark than ever appeared possible. Expect him to be coming at them late.

11 LOVE SHOCK is racing well, although he has been looking like a step-up in trip would suit him. Still, he's some chance again on this surface, especially with a nine-pound turnaround on California Whip from their last clash.

COMMENTS BY ANDREW HAWKINS, COURTESY OF THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB