Hong Kong International Races: Favorites and Value Picks
Elite racehorses from around the globe will meet on Sunday (Saturday night in the U.S.) for the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin Racecourse.
Four Group 1 turf prizes are on the agenda, ranging in distance from 1,200 meters to 2,400 meters. Let’s review the favorite in each competitive field, then dig deeper and highlight value-oriented alternatives to the top betting choices:
Hong Kong Mile (G1)
Favorite: Hong Kong Triple Crown winner Golden Sixty boasts a near-perfect 13-for-14 resume, including 10 consecutive victories. Fresh off a comfortable score in the Jockey Club Mile (G2), he looms among the shortest-priced favorites of the day and will surely be tough to beat.
Value pick: Three-time Group 1 winner Admire Mars won this race last year and ships in off a strong third in the Mile Championship (G1) in Japan, where he was beaten just a length by fellow Group 1 winner Gran Alegria and Indy Champ. He’ll be a formidable factor again while returning to the site of his signature triumph.
Hong Kong Sprint (G1)
Favorite: The Australian sprinter Classique Legend fired off a big effort to win The Everest at Randwick last month, scoring by 2 1/2 lengths in a thoroughly decisive performance. Now under the care of Hong Kong-based trainer Caspar Fownes, Classique Legend will receive plenty of support in his first foray to Sha Tin.
Value pick: Local runner Amazing Star has shown signs of significant talent, particularly when allowed to vie for early supremacy. He appeared to resent rating tactics in Jockey Club Sprint (G2) last month, but was only beaten 1 3/4 lengths in a crowded finish. If Amazing Star can secure a forward position in the Hong Kong Sprint, he has the potential to challenge at a very nice price.
Hong Kong Cup (G1)
Favorite: The globetrotting Magical has been a sustained shining star for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, accumulating seven Group 1 wins over the course of 27 starts. Runner-up in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland last month, Magical will cut back to 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) for the Hong Kong Cup, a big benefit since five of her top-level successes have come over this trip.
Value pick: The Japanese raider Win Bright seems to hold a special affinity for Sha Tin—in 2019, he nabbed both the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Hong Kong Cup over this course. His recent form is uninspiring at first glance, but he did clock 1:59.40 when finishing 10th against elite competition in Japan’s Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) last month, his first start off an eight-month layoff. Win Bright can step forward while returning to Sha Tin for a defense of his Hong Kong Cup title.
Hong Kong Vase (G1)
Favorite: The 2018 Hong Kong Vase winner Exultant figures to be favored against a small field after prepping with a runner-up effort in the 2,000-meter Jockey Club Cup (G2) at Sha Tin. Stretching back out over his preferred 2,400-meter trip should help the reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year bounce back to peak form.
Value pick: The Aidan O’Brien-trained 3-year-old Mogul won the prestigious Grand Prix de Paris (G1) at Longchamp in September and was hardly disgraced when finishing fifth by three lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). He’ll face easier competition in the Hong Kong Vase and should relish every inch of the 2,400-meter journey.