Hong Kong Preview: Beauty to provide Joy at Happy Valley
#6 Beauty Joy can handle a rise in distance and repel graded stakes placegetter #2 Sunny Star in the Lantau Island Handicap at Happy Valley in Hong Kong Jan. 19.
Sunny Star has a great record of 10-3-2-2 at Happy Valley, and he ran one of the best races of his life three weeks ago when he finished second in the January Cup (G3), 1 1/4 lengths behind former Australian Derby (G1) runner-up Zebrowski.
However, that race was over 1800m (about 1 1/8 miles), and whether he is sharp enough to overcome a step back to 1650m (about 1 mile 40 yards) and a five-pound rise in the ratings is questionable.
Beauty Joy, however, comes into the race as an improver. Unbeaten in four Australian starts when known as Talladega, Beauty Joy ran modestly in two Hong Kong starts last season but he has put his races together well in 2021-22. He began with a decisive victory in a 1400m (about seven furlongs) Class 3 race Dec. 12, and at his last effort was second over the same distance in Class 2 company Jan. 1.
He has victories up to 1800m in Australia so the step up to an extended mile should not be a problem, and he has the very notable services of Zac Purton.
#3 C P Brave, a dual winner in England when known as Piranesi, comes into the race after being freshened up from a fourth-place finish over 1800m. His form is better at around a mile and he should be right in the fight.
#5 Solar Wai Wai looks another solid prospect. He was one place behind Zebrowski when fifth at Happy Valley Dec. 12, and he is usually right in the mix.
Topweight #1 Telecom Fighters should appreciate the return to 1650m, while an interesting one to watch is 2021 New Zealand Derby (G1) winner #10 Rocket Spade, who is having his third start in Hong Kong. He was sharp enough to win at group two level over 1600m in New Zealand and should be getting close to his peak.
Happy Valley, Jan. 19, Race 6
- $10 win/$30 show: #6 Beauty Joy
- $1.30 trifecta: 2, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10
BONUS PLAY – NEW ZEALAND
Riccarton, Jan, 19, Race 7
- $10 win/$30 show #5 Kristofferson: In great form over summer and should be too seasoned for his opponents here.