Hong Kong Preview: Packing Award seeks fourth win of season

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

July 12th, 2022

#8 Packing Award can end a fruitful Hong Kong season by beating a good quality field of Class 2 horses at Happy Valley July 13.

The son of Shamus Award has won three of his eight starts this season and looks a great chance to score for a fourth time in 2021-22 in the 1,650-meter (about 1 mile and 44 yards) Wong Nai Chung Handicap, which rounds off the final midweek raceday of the racing season.

Packing Award has been a revelation since moving up to 1,650 meters six starts ago. Since then he has won three times (most recently on June 1), finished second twice, and finished seventh on the other occasion after a rare misstep at the start.

From barrier three, jockey Matthew Poon should find a nice spot just off the pace and be finishing hard in the short stretch on the Hong Kong city circuit.

Packing Award is no good thing, however, as the field is full of in-form horses.

#12 My Ecstatic has been one of the finds of the season for premiership-leading trainer Frankie Lor. After scoring just one victory from his first 18 starts in Hong Kong, the All Too Hard gelding has won three of his last four races, most recently June 28. Each time, he scored after being in the first two the whole way.

He has a change of jockey this start, with Golden Sixty’s regular pilot Vincent Ho aboard. From barrier six, he should be contesting the pace and then looking to get away on the final corner.

Also coming off a last-start win is My Ecstatic’s stablemate #4 Everyone’s Delight, who won in Class 2 company May 25. He has been consistent most of the season, with his only poor run recently coming when asked to stretch to 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on Sha Tin’s dirt course four starts back. He’s a better horse at 1,650 meters on turf and has a nice barrier post of four.

Leading jockeys Zac Purton (132 wins for the season) and Joao Moreira (130) continue their quest for the riding crown here and can’t be ignored. Purton rides #6 Gorytus, who has been running well and has a great turn of foot when held up, while Moreira is on #2 Savaquin, who has talent but has been a little off his game at his last two starts.

#11 Maldives nearly always storms home late and though he finds it hard to score a victory while weaving through traffic, he can’t be left out of exotics.

A more interesting outside chance may be #10 Sight Spirit. His last four starts look inconsistent but they include a failure at his only dirt start, a sixth placing in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (the first race in the 4-Year-Old Triple Crown), and a distant fourth on an unsuitably wet track over 1,800 meters, possibly too far for him. He looked good before then and can easily bounce back, though he hasn’t run at Happy Valley.

Last start runner-up #9 Prime Minister, front-running #1 Telecom Fighters, and the freshened #5 Sunny Star all have prospects as well in what looks like a fascinating contest.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #8 Packing Award
  • $1 quinella: box 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12