Hong Kong Preview: Switch to dirt may help Berlin Tango

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

May 3rd, 2022

Hong Kong play for May 4

Sha Tin, Race 9, Yuen Long Handicap (1,650 meters)

#9 Berlin Tango could benefit from a move off the turf when he takes on a good Class 2 field in the Yuen Long Handicap over 1,650 meters (just over one mile) at Sha Tin on May 4.

Berlin Tango won two of his seven races in Britain, including the 2020 Listed Classic Trial over about 1 1/4 miles at Kempton on the Polytrack, where he beat future Group 1 winner Pyledriver.

He’s been a little disappointing since beginning to race in Hong Kong in late 2020, with his best efforts being three third-place finishes in 15 starts.

So far this season Berlin Tango has run respectably, and he's finished fourth at Sha Tin in his last two starts. However, he has yet to run this season on the Sha Tin “All-Weather” track—which is actually a dirt track rather than an artificial surface. Though Berlin Tango's best form in Britain was on an artificial track, he looks to have potential to handle the dirt surface at reasonable odds.

The field includes a number of horses that have handled the Sha Tin dirt, including #1 Kings Shield, #3 Telecom Fighters, #6 Czarson, #7 Red Desert, and #8 Beauty Fit. Telecom Fighters is probably in the best form of them all, having run consistently well without winning in his last five starts, and he has the benefit of jockey Zac Purton’s services.

Czarson may also be worth a look. He’s been finishing strongly in dirt races over 1200 meters (about six furlongs) and he could appreciate 1650m, though his breeding doesn’t necessarily suggest it.

The most interesting runner is #4 Money Catcher, who races on dirt for the first time. A multiple group-placed runner in New Zealand when known as Jason Belltree, he finished third in two legs of the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old series this year, the Hong Kong Classic Cup and the Hong Kong Derby. He disappointed a little when third at Happy Valley on April 6, but that track can be difficult and he has reportedly trialed well on dirt.

Best play

  • $10 win/$30 show: #9 Berlin Tango ($40)
  • $1 Quinella box: 3,4,6,8,9 ($10)
    Total: $50

May 4 bonus play: New Zealand

Riccarton, Race 3, NZB Insurance Pearl Series (1,400 meters on Polytrack)

  • $10 win/$30 show: #2 Aerial Blue ($40)

Very impressive when winning her maiden and should handle the surface at Riccarton’s first raceday on its inner Polytrack surface.