Beauty Spirit looks just perfect for new champion Purton
9.35 Sha Tin
10.10 Sha Tin
10.45 Sha Tin
1 pt win
It will seem very strange for Hong Kong punters when the new season opens at Sha Tin today– for the first time in five years there will be no ‘Magic Man’ to rely on.
Joao Moreira, truly a phenomenon, won three jockeys’ titles but, more than that, he carried more tickets (bets) in a season than any rider in the modern era.
His arch rival Zac Purton, the new champion, certainly didn’t shed any tears when the Brazilian headed off to Japan, and young bucks Chad Schofield and Sam Clipperton must surely see it as a chance to grab a bigger slice of the prize-money pie.
And there are two ‘new’ faces in the jockeys’ ranks– Grant Van Niekerk, who has ridden more than700 winners in his native South Africa, and compatriot Callan Murray, an ex-motocross rider who tasted success during a brief Hong Kong stint two years ago.
It has already been a big week for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, as its £370 million Conghua satellite training and spelling centre in China’s nearby Guangdong province was officially launched.
A race meeting (with no betting) is already planned, but its immediate purpose is for training and six Conghua residents will run on the challenging ten-race card at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Of course, with the first-day challenge comes an opportunity for value and although I can see strongly fancied Sha Tin Vase hero Winner’s Way (7.00) landing the traditional opening-day feature, the HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup, Purton followers can get juicier odds about stablemate Beauty Spirit(10.45)later on.
In Australia,Beauty Spirit won a Group 2 over nine furlongs at metro track Caulfield but is proven first up at shorter and will have as a danger Neil Callan’s mount Rattan, who also goes well fresh.
Purton and trainer Danny C.S. Shum combine with lightly raced Villa Fionn(9.35), whose promise in three local starts indicates he has the right profile, although course-and-distance winner Noble Steed should be included in multiples.
Schofield should be followed on Attention(10.10), a Brisbane Sires’ Produce winner before shipping to Hong Kong. A good draw plus blinkers first time indicate they mean business.
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