Hong Kong Preview: Nervous barrier for Atomic Force
#5 Nervous Witness may spoil the much-anticipated Hong Kong debut of French Group 2 winner #3 Atomic Force in the Hing Tung Handicap at Happy Valley March 9.
Atomic Force raced four times in Europe as a juvenile in 2021 and won his last three, including the 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) Prix du Bois (G3) at Chantilly in June and the Prix Robert Papin (G2) at Chantilly July 18 over the same 1,200-meter trip.
The Kevin Ryan-trained son of Cotai Glory was then sold to Hong Kong owner Martin Siu Kim Sun and makes his Hong Kong debut over 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) this week.
Now trained by Caspar Fownes, Atomic Force has reportedly been training well, but he has a few things against him. The long break from racing may be a factor, but the bigger issue will be transitioning from the straight Chantilly track at which he scored his two black type victories to the sharply-turning Happy Valley circuit.
Nervous Witness has had a huge reputation since he began racing in Hong Kong and has yet to go off at longer than even money in five starts. He enhanced that reputation with two very easy victories at his first two starts, but the bubble has burst a little with defeats at his next three runs.
However, he gained some valuable experience at Happy Valley when third last start behind Grateful Heart and Voyage Warrior at Class 2 level. Back to Class 3 he should be even more competitive, especially with Zac Purton in the saddle.
#9 Special M put in a rare bad race at his last start Feb. 23, but he was caught three wide on a fast pace and should get a more economical run from gate two in this race. He will have the benefit of Joao Moreira’s riding talents and he looks the best of the others. #6 Winner Method should also be included in his return to his favoured 1,000 meter trip.
- $20 win #5 Nervous Witness
- $1.30 trifecta 3, 5 with 3, 5 with all
BONUS PLAY – NEW ZEALAND
Riccarton Park, Wednesday March 9, Race 5, Valachi Downs Rating 65
- $10 win/$30 show, #5 Madam Sequoia: Running some very good races in stronger company and should appreciate a return to Rating 65 level.