In-form Penzance looks ready to win on debut
Hong Kong (Sha Tin) preview
RACE 1 (1,000M)
5 HOT KING PRAWN has been the clear standout of a fairly moderate group of griffins to step out so far. He looked very comfortable in a recent trial behind stablemate Premiere, who was just beaten at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, and he should be going two-for-two here.
7 CHAPARRAL STAR is one of two newcomers in this race. The gelding's brother Quick Strike was an emerging stayer before tragedy struck in last year's Hobart Cup, and Chaparral Star is also likely to need much further than 1,000m. However, his trials have been fair and in a very weak race, he could get into the placings with 120 pounds on his back.
6 BINGO is the other debutant and is undoubtedly better bred to handle this speed test. However, his trials have been unimpressive and he may need time, although he does have leading trainer John Moore in his corner.
3 RIVERSIDE BIRD - with the 10-pound claim of Matthew Poon - could run an improved race and looks a good one for those exotic bets.
RACE 2 (1,800M)
2 AEROLUMINANCE has shown himself to be on the cusp of a win at his last three runs at both Sha Tin and Happy Valley. The return to Sha Tin and the step up in trip to 1,800m both look positives. He can break through here.
13 SUPERNATURAL has looked promising but has been unable to conjure a win. It remains to be seen whether the 1,800m is truly the trip he wants, but he does get Joao Moreira aboard and will have plenty of admirers.
11 HIGH SPEED METRO is very one-paced but he is the type of horse who bobs up consistently in these sorts of races. Neil Callan is a good booking.
6 SUPER SWEET ORANGE failed at his one attempt beyond a mile, but he should be able to see out the 1,800m. The gate makes it tough but improvement wouldn't surprise.
RACE 3 (1,400M)
8 PENZANCE is a debutant and bred to get over a trip. He could even be a horse for next year's Hong Kong Derby. He has been well-prepared for this. The booking of Joao Moreira is the cherry on top. He can win at his first start.
1 METALLIC STAR doesn't win out of turn but is always hard to catch over this course and distance when left alone on the speed. He can skip away if things fall his way.
5 EXPERTO CREDE didn't show a lot at his first run down in class but he is worth another chance, especially given he is likely to find form before the season is out.
14 WINGOLD might need the drop into Class 5 again but a few of his runs up in grade haven't been too bad.
RACE 4 (1,650M)
4 SUPER TALENT disappointed last start but his previous two runs had been very good. He looks a horse that is likely to win before the end of the season. This could be it.
8 NAMJONG INVINCIBLE really impressed at his first run on the surface in that same Forever Posh race. He's drawn well again and will be hard to beat.
9 BOLSHOI BALLET has long got back and run home strongly in his races, so it is slightly surprising that this is the first time he's trying the extended mile on this surface. If he gets a clear, unimpeded run, he should be chiming in late.
13 FIVE STARS AGENT is proving hard to follow up in Class 4 but he will be somewhere near the speed and likely in front at some point in the straight.
RACE 5 (1,200M)
2 STARSHIP was well beaten into second by Jumbo Luck last start, but it was still a positive showing at his first run in Class 4. Zac Purton sticks solid, he has a better draw and he is capable of breaking his Hong Kong duck here.
4 ZERO HEDGE was sent out an odds-on favourite on debut and despite racing greenly and looking in trouble in the middle stages, he managed to prevail. He will be right there in the mix and could trouble Starship.
3 NOBLE DE BOY was a good, albeit distant, second with Dylan Mo aboard last start. He gets 10 pounds off and he is sure to be around the mark again.
6 OUR FOLKS has never been rated as low as he is now. He has started to show glimpses of form and he can be expected to find the winners' circle again in the near future.
RACE 6 (1,800M)
5 VICTORY BOYS has been remarkably consistent over the last 15 months, winning four times at Happy Valley and not finishing out of the placings in that time. His one Sha Tin run beyond a mile was very good two runs back. He carries 116 pounds and he's a major contender.
9 GORGEOUS AGAIN has had a long first season, but he has really come of age at his last few outings to win four of his last five starts - including three over this course and distance. He now takes his first shot at Class 3, but in his current form, he cannot be dismissed lightly.
2 GREEN DISPATCH tried hard to throw away victory last start, but he managed to scrape in by a neck. He's worth taking on at too short a quote, but there's no doubt he is some chance.
1 ENSURING is a better horse than his current rating of 80, but he also needs a race shape to suit and that might be his major query here. Still, he can run home into the placings.
RACE 7 (1,650M)
7 GIANT TURTLE impressed at his first start on this surface two back, while he wasn't disgraced back at Happy Valley last time out. The return to the dirt looks a plus, even with the wide gate, and there doesn't look to be a great amount of speed here and Schofield could have an easy time up front.
4 WHITE MAGIC has come to life at his last two starts to suggest that he is near a win, if everything falls his way. He should get a nice enough run in transit and this appears his best chance yet to get a win on the board.
3 RED MARVEL had spent a year out of the winners' circle before his last-start victory. It remains to be seen if he still has the potential to win again, but he should get a nice run from gate two and he will likely be somewhere around the mark.
8 WILLIE WAY is coming off a career-worst effort at his last start in March. Still, coming into this fresh, perhaps he can add some value to exotics.
RACE 8 (1,200M)
8 JUMBO LUCK had been slightly disappointing in two efforts at the top of Class 3 before producing a very dominant win last time out. He is up in grade, but this race doesn't look that much more difficult and if he gets it easy enough out in front, he should be able to steal a march once again.
6 BRAVE LEGEND looked to go to another level when winning his last two races in New Zealand in October. His trials here suggest that he has taken another step forward and he can get into the finish fresh.
11 TRAVEL DATUK is proving frustrating to follow - it's clear he has talent, but he just hasn't been able to put it all together to win yet. He should get all favours from the inside gate and maybe can win this race.
10 STAR OF JOY was stuck wide last start and disappointed at Happy Valley. The return to Sha Tin should prove a positive.
RACE 9 (1,600M)
8 CIRCUIT HASSLER looked to be coming to hand earlier this year with two good Class 2 runs, but he then stepped up to the Hong Kong Derby and the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, finishing ninth in both. The return to 1,600m off a slight freshen-up looks a positive move.
1 SEASONS BLOOM was beaten by a half length by Circuit Hassler in the Classic Mile at level imposts, but now, Seasons Bloom has to carry a whopping 26 pounds more. Still, Seasons Bloom is a chance - he has had tough runs at his two course and distance efforts since his Hong Kong Derby fourth. From gate one with Joao Moreira aboard, he must be considered.
4 JOLLY JOLLY has been solid at his last four starts, the last three from wide gates. He should be able to position somewhere near the lead from gate eight and he will be in the mix for a long way.
2 PEOPLE'S KNIGHT had some minor niggles heading into last start and still ran well enough, coming after a good effort in a Class 1 over 1,400m. He could get into the placing.
RACE 10 (1,200M)
9 LITTLE GIANT could hardly have been more impressive in his Hong Kong debut, coasting home by a length and three quarters in Class 3. He looks more than capable of handling the step up to Class 2 with only 122 pounds on his back, and gate two should make his job easier.
12 LUCKY DOLLAR was another who arrived in Hong Kong with a big reputation after two comfortable wins in Australia. He scored an easy win over the straight 1,000m last time out. The 1,200m will be no issue, especially with a far kinder gate, and he's the main danger.
2 HOUSE OF FUN has done a tremendous job to win five races this season. He may now be on his mark, but with his consistency, it is hard to toss him out completely.
3 SHAMAL has risen 32 points in the ratings after four consecutive wins. Still, if he can get out in front, he will keep rolling for a long way.
COMMENTS BY ANDREW HAWKINS, COURTESY OF THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB