Racing

Highland Reel can repeat Vase win

RACE 1 (1,200M)

4 JING JING WIN, the top lot from the Hong Kong International Sale this year, has lived up to the boom in two starts and all signs point to him making it three wins on end and potentially opening up a lot of doors.

13 AMAZING MOMENT returns for his second Hong Kong season after a fair term last time around. He has looked good in his trials and trackwork.

2 WATER DIVINER was strong in winning in his Hong Kong debut down the straight. The bend is no issue, having tackled it on every occasion in Australia.

RACE 2 (1,800M)

11 ALLCASH has not won in 19 Hong Kong starts, but he has placed in his last two, including a second to Redwood Baby last time out over the Sha Tin 2,000m. He now looks set to break through here.

12 WILLIE WAY has strung three wins together over two seasons on both turf and dirt. He faces the rise in class but gets 15 pounds (6.8kg) drop in weight and has a plum gate in 2.

13 EASY HEDGE has probably been Hong Kong's most disappointing horse, but he goes in again as he is liable for improvement at any time.

RACE 3 (1,400M)

3 WINNER'S WAY caused something of an upset when he won on debut at 25-1, but he proved that run was no fluke with an even better performance despite being defeated by Volitation last time out. He looks set to become a Class 2 mainstay.

11 BEAT THE CLOCK is the likely favourite, having won as easy as anything on debut before racing somewhat flat after a tough run last time out. The gate 12 draw could see him posted wide again, but he looks well-placed to continue his rise.

5 BOOMING DELIGHT is a fascinating Hong Kong debutant, having raced as Out And About in Britain. He started favourite in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot last start, a race which has famously produced a plethora of future Hong Kong talents, and wasn't disgraced in sixth. From his barrier trials, he seems to have come to hand fairly quickly.

RACE 4 (2,400M) HONG KONG VASE

1 HIGHLAND REEL is no champion, but his honesty, his bombproof nature and his tactical speed ensure that he is always in the mix. His Breeders' Cup Turf win proved a masterclass from Seamie Heffernan, while his win in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and his runner-up placing in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe behind stablemate Found is far superior to what anyone else in this field has achieved. All being equal, he wins this race a second time.

13 NUOVO RECORD found a hint of her best form when she won an admittedly weak G3 at Del Mar last time out. She's back to tackle the longer trip after an American sojourn and any semblance of the Nuovo Record of 2015 will see her among the placings.

Her compatriot, 4 SATONO CROWN, has also disappointed this season since winning a G2 over 2,200m at Kyoto to mark his 2016 debut. He steps up to 2,400m for the second time, having run third in the G1 Tokyo Yushun, the Japanese Derby, behind Duramente last year. He gets the services of Joao Moreira and must be a chance.

RACE 5 (1,200M) HONG KONG SPRINT

The presence of Japanese star speedster 6 BIG ARTHUR should cause concern for the Hong Kong brigade. The lightly-raced type won the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen in easy style in March. He has trained on for this race, including an eye-catching gallop on the all-weather track on Thursday, and even gate 13 shouldn't be a negative for a horse that is probably best with clear running.

The best two local chances are undoubtedly 2 LUCKY BUBBLES and 2014 winner 1 AEROVELOCITY.

Lucky Bubbles represents the new generation of Hong Kong sprinters on the rise, while Aerovelocity still has talent on his day and he has been another case of working his way into form. Barrier 2 should allow him to have as soft a run as possible.

RACE 6 (1,400M)

The Panasonic Cup last time out under the same conditions looks the ideal form reference, so it should be again with the winner 9 RACING SUPERNOVA set to go back-to-back. There were major queries about whether he could stay 1,400m before his last run, but he tossed those concerns aside with an emphatic victory. The five-year-old looks hard to beat.

6 BLIZZARD and 7 MR BOGART finished third and second to Racing Supernova respectively in the Panasonic Cup. They are the threats again.

RACE 7 (1,600M) HONG KONG MILE

An open race that hinges on the health and well-being of one horse - 2014 Mile victor 1 ABLE FRIEND. If the giant chestnut is anywhere near his best, he wins this race and wins with ease. But how close to that mark is he now? Hong Kong's highest-rated horse of all-time, Able Friend has raced only once since finishing third to Maurice in last year's Mile. He has been plagued by injury in 2016 and it is almost a miracle that he is even back racing at all, let alone the fact we are talking about him being a legitimate chance in one of the world's biggest races.

12 SATONO ALADDIN could potentially go off as the longest-priced runner of the three Japanese visitors, but his run in the G1 Mile Championship (1,600m) was terrific when he was checked badly. He has been reinvented as a miler this season and if he gets his set-up, he will be sprinting hard late.

13 SUN JEWELLERY was the top four-year-old last season, winning the Classic Mile and the Classic Cup. He is yet to prove himself against the older horses, but he gives the impression that it is just a matter of time, whether it is this race, or in races like the Stewards' Cup and the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup in the coming months. He could be the first to challenge early in the straight.

RACE 8 (2,000M) HONG KONG CUP

Japan has set its sights on the 2,000m feature with reigning champion 1 A SHIN HIKARI and last year's Hong Kong Mile winner 2 MAURICE.

Most people would agree that Maurice is the better horse of the two, but is he suited in a race that could expose his stamina concerns and draw his turn of foot out of him? As for A Shin Hikari, is he the same horse that won this race last year in a breeze and destroyed his rivals in the Prix d'Ispahan at Chantilly by 10 lengths?

Will that horse appear at Sha Tin or will it be the shadow who has been flat at his last two? Assuming A Shin Hikari returns to his best, jockey Yutaka Take is likely to try and repeat the tactics that stole victory last year.

Then the whole question becomes not whether Maurice is the better horse, but is he good enough to run down an A Shin Hikari who is likely to get all favours out in front?

6 LOVELY DAY started a hot favourite in the QEII Cup in April when he finished fourth to Werther, but he is flying under the radar here after a somewhat lacklustre 2016.

RACE 9 (1,200M)

9 MR STUNNING is not the most robust character but really caught the eye in his first runs as a three-year-old. His return was as good a fourth as you can get, especially after he missed the start from the inside and then was forced to switch course a number of times. That run should have brought him on significantly and really, he should be winning now.

2 NEW ASIA SUNRISE is only a pint-sized galloper but he is all heart and soul. He is tenacious and always seems to bat above his average, even when he is not entitled to do so.

1 LINE SEEKER found the line nicely last time out and should get a softer run in transit here.

RACE 10 (1,600M)

5 PAKISTAN STAR, the horse with the electrifying turn of foot, was uncomfortable racing between horses last start and yet still almost got there. He will be better suited here.

13 WESTERN EXPRESS down in the weights. The Australian import, who formerly raced as Cardless Cash, has only 119 pounds on his back and Joao Moreira aboard, and he will be a big threat to Pakistan Star.

2 EAGLE WAY looks like he would take great benefit from his first-up run in a recent trial, but the blinkers were removed from him in that trial but are being reapplied here. He definitely has some chance.

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