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Hong Kong racing tips: Jim McGrath with three selections at Sha Tin on Sunday

Rebel’s Romance
9.10 Sha Tin
2pts win

9.45 Sha Tin
2pts win

Phoenix Light
10.20 Sha Tin
2pts win

Charlie Appleby is hoping for no rain on raceday as he attempts to break new ground with Rebel’s Romance, a rare overseas runner in the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions and Chater Cup (9.10) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Appleby and Rebel's Romance are prolific winners internationally but both are seeking their first Hong Kong success, and it seems only the elements stand in their way. Heavy rain has persisted all week but the track drains incredibly well, which is good news for the Godolphin team. 

“I’m not over worried, so long as it doesn’t rain on the day itself, and particularly not during racing,” said Appleby. “He galloped on the turf track this week and his work rider said it rode on the good side, which is encouraging. 

“It’s not as if Rebel’s Romance can’t go on softish tracks. He won on good to soft in Germany, so we know he can handle it. When he got beaten at Belmont last October, it was bottomless so there was a genuine excuse."

On international ratings, Rebel’s Romance is well ahead of the locals. As a Breeders’ Cup Turf and Dubai Sheema Classic winner, he is entitled to be, and drawn on the outside (stall eight of eight runners), William Buick should take a handy early position two off the inside rail.

The better of Tony Cruz’s contenders, Five G Patch, was third in this last year and is the danger following his solid second to stablemate La City Blanche in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, a handicap run over course and distance three weeks ago. 

Straight Arron was fourth in the Champions and Chater last year, and although well beaten in the QEII Cup last month, he suffered severe interference so it is best to put a line through it. He is preferred to Russian Emperor, who attempts to win the race for the third successive year, and Hong Kong Derby winner Massive Sovereign, who struggled in rain-affected going last time.

Cruz has his team really firing, so it is hard to go past Californiatotality in the mile handicap (9.45), in which he attempts to complete a hat-trick under Brenton Avdulla. The three-year-old has gone up seven points in the ratings and has drawn wide (12) but should go in again.

Andrea Atzeni has an excellent chance in the 6f handicap (10.20) aboard the Dennis Yip-trained Phoenix Light, who stormed home to win over course and distance last month. Little Brose, a Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner in Australia, is a notable contender as he is running in a handicap for the first time locally.

Sha Tin Placepot

1 Divano
11 Lucky Planet

1 Chateauneuf
Storming Dragon

1 Rebel’s Romance
3 Five G Patch

2 Californiatotality
Circuit Fiery

1 Little Brose
6 Phoenix Light

2 Galaxy Witness
4 Top Gun

2x2x2x2x2x2=64 lines

Bets can be placed into Hong Kong pools with the Tote. The first race at Sha Tin on Sunday is at 5.45am.  

Sha Tin card

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