Hong Kong Preview: Spot Plays for Nov. 20, 2022

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November 18th, 2022

The Hong Kong international races are just three weeks away. Horses from around the world are getting ready for four of the richest international turf races around, with exciting contests assured.

Though foreign horses have frequently been successful at the Hong Kong International meet, especially in the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase (G1) and the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup (G1), the locals have proven hard to beat as well, especially in the Hong Kong Mile (G1) and the six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint (G1).

So it pays to take note of their form when considering wagers for that raceday, and the most important lead-ups in Hong Kong come this weekend at Sha Tin.

All races at Sha Tin on Saturday night are subject to the TwinSpires Rest of the World Bet Back, making them even more appealing for punters. So let’s have a look at the features.

Race 6, 2:40 am ET
Jockey Club Sprint (G2)
1,200m (about six furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

Most of the best sprinters in Hong Kong are here, including the winner of last year’s Hong Kong Sprint, #2 Sky Field. However, this looks set to be a battle once again between the established champ #1 Wellington and the rising star #11 Lucky Sweynesse.

The pair had a great battle in the Premier Bowl (G2) Oct. 23, with Wellington outrunning his younger rival. However, Lucky Sweynesse missed the start and was rushed up to lead, burning off some energy that allowed Wellington to pop out of the trail and beat him.

Wellington and Lucky Sweynesse have exactly the same barrier draws for this race as they did for the Premier Bowl, but if Lucky Sweynesse can get out of the gates more quickly he may be able to turn the tables.

The aforementioned Sky Field, on the other hand, missed the start in the Premier Bowl before flying home for third. He could be an upset chance if he gets a better start.

  • $10 win/$40 show: #11 Lucky Sweynesse
  • $1.30 trifecta: 1, 11 with 1, 2, 11 with 1, 2, 11

Race 7, 3:10 am ET
Jockey Club Mile (G2)
1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds and up

Hong Kong racing’s poster boy #1 Golden Sixty looks to show he’s still the best turf miler in Hong Kong (and one of the best of the world) here. He’s won the last two Hong Kong Mile crowns, and has an astounding record of 21 wins from 24 starts.

However, there’s a chance he could be vulnerable here. It’s his first start for the season, and he has what looks like a high-class rival this time in #3 California Spangle. The Irish-bred was one of the best in the Hong Kong 4-Year-Old series last year, despite distances that were probably longer than which suit him. Back to shorter journeys this season, he’s been very strong, winning both his starts this season.

It’s entirely possible California Spangle will get away with a cheap lead again, as he did last start in the Sha Tin Trophy (G2), given it’s just a seven-horse field. With Golden Sixty giving five pounds away to California Spangle, this could be the time to bet against the champ.

  • $10 win: #3 California Spangle
  • $4 trifecta: 1, 3 with 1, 3 with all

Race 8, 3:40 am ET
Jockey Club Cup (G2)
2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up

A very interesting contest here. The hot favorite will be #1 Romantic Warrior, who’s only been beaten once in eight Hong Kong starts. He beat California Spangle in two of the three Hong Kong 4-Year-Old series races earlier this year, including the Hong Kong Derby, and has looked a very good horse.

The biggest question might be how ready he is for this, as he hasn’t raced since winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) April 24. If he’s at all in need of the run, he could be vulnerable.

The best staying horse in Hong Kong last season was #2 Russian Emperor, winner of the Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) in February and the Champions and Chater Cup (G1) in May. He was well beaten on his return this season and should be ready to improve, though he may be better at a longer distance.

The one to beat may be #4 Tourbillon Diamond. He has been very consistent and put up a great effort to finish second to California Spangle in the Sha Tin Trophy (G2) over a mile. Up to 1 1/4 miles, he should be well suited and well seasoned.

Keep an eye out also for #3 Beauty Joy, who was only beaten a half-length in the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (G3) Nov. 6 by #9 Money Catcher despite conceding that horse 20 pounds.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #4 Tourbillon Diamond
  • $1.30 trifecta: 1, 4 with 1, 2, 3, 4 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 9