Sunday's Hong Kong (Sha Tin) form analysis

Exultant looks good for back-to-back Gold Cups

Exultant will be favoured to go back-to-back for champion jockey Zac Purton in tomorrow's Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin.
Exultant will be favoured to go back-to-back for champion jockey Zac Purton in tomorrow's Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin.PHOTO: HKJC

RACE 1 (1,200M)

2 Happy Alumni has shown of late that a win is just around the corner. He's expected to relish getting back up in trip and around a bend. 8 Sparkling Star has done nothing but impress in his three-start career in Hong Kong. He ran third twice over this course and trip. 13 Simply Fluke is winless across eight starts, but he has placed in his last two starts. If he can overcome the awkward gate, he'll be there. 3 Melbourne Hall gets premiership-leading jockey Joao Moreira. He looks ready to go close after a slashing third last time out.

RACE 2 (1,200M)

13 All Times Grateful disappointed as joint-favourite last start. But, with only four Hong Kong starts under his belt, he can be forgiven, as he was forced to do a stack of work early from the wide draw. 3 Ka Ying Excellent has placed in his last two appearances. He's another who is winless but does come out of a very strong form race behind Wellington. 4 Ping Hai Bravo finished second in both of his Hong Kong outings. With the experience under his belt, he remains a top-three contender. 5 Jade Phoenix warrants respect from the inside gate with Moreira aboard.

RACE 3 (1,600M)

6 Shadow Breaker performed admirably first-up over 1,400m to finish seventh after rattling home from the rear of the field. He looks ready to get up in distance to a mile. 4 Cheerful Leader has placed in his last three runs. He steps out for premiership-leading trainer Ricky Yiu and Moreira. 7 Telecom Rocket has been consistent all season, placing in all but three of his seven runs this term which included a win. He can figure again with the right run. 9 Destin's best is up to this. If he can overcome the wide gate, he has every chance, especially as a winner already this term.

RACE 4 (1,400M)

2 Mighty Giant has a win and two seconds in his last three runs. He's drawn a touch awkwardly but he still rates as a leading player, especially with Hong Kong's champion jockey Zac Purton getting the leg-up. 3 Triple Triple also turned his form around to twice finish inside the money as well as snatch a win. He'll find himself up on the pace and should get every chance. 7 My Winner dashed home to win first-up over this course and distance. He might find a few of these too slick but a probable fast pace should see him figure from the rear. 11 Yes We Can's last run is worth forgiving. With a softer run in transit from the inside gate, he should be able to bounce back.

RACE 5 (2,000M) GROUP 1 HONG KONG GOLD CUP

1 Exultant won this race last year. His form leading in again suggests that he's going to be hard to beat. The Hong Kong premier stayer scored a tough win last start in the Group 3 Centenary Vase over 1,800m and is now stepping up in trip against a similar field. He will be favoured to go back-to-back for Purton. 2 Southern Legend rounded out the one-two behind Exultant in this race last year and he appears on a similar trajectory. Admittedly, he's a better miler. 11 Glorious Dragon has won two of his last three starts. The grey is in spectacular form and his first run at Pattern level last start saw him finish runner-up to Exultant but carrying 20lb (9.09kg) less. 7 Time Warp can roll forward as he usually does, this time under Moreira. He was found to be lame last start. Since then, he has trialled well. If he can perform on race day, he'll be thereabouts.

RACE 6 (1,400M)

8 Private Rocket might be winless this term but he's still racing in consistent enough form to warrant respect. He's a course-and-distance winner. 6 Take What You Need has taken to Hong Kong well since his arrival from Australia, where he was a two-time winner. He's drawn to get the gun run for Blake Shinn. 1 Mongolian King is looking to snap a streak of two runner-up efforts. If he gets a fast tempo, he can end a winless streak that stretches back to September 2017. 5 Southern Superstar is a quality South African import who placed twice in both his outings last term. But he is returning from yet another tendon injury which is a concern.

RACE 7 (1,400M) GROUP 1 QUEEN'S SILVER JUBILEE CUP

4 Thanks Forever turned in a career-best last start to snatch second in the Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup over 1,200m. He might just be ready to step back in trip. 2 Beat The Clock is Hong Kong's champion sprinter as a four-time Group 1 winner, including in his last two outings. He's yet to finish outside of the top three across his 24-start career. One of his 10 wins was over this course and distance. 1 Beauty Generation is Hong Kong's all-time prize money earner with an astonishing HK$92 million (S$16.5 million) from 16 wins and eight placings. He's dominated the mile ranks for the past two seasons and is looking to retain his crown after winning this race last year. 5 Rattan's sprinting career might be all but over but, before his Group 2 1,200m score, he was winning over 1,400m and 1,600m. He can figure with the right run.

RACE 8 (1,200M)

4 Valiant Dream has gone to a new level this term, winning twice from his last three attempts, which include a narrow neck defeat by Hong Kong Win. On Wednesday at the Valley, Hong Kong Win finished second to Stronger, who lowered the 1,000m track record. That form is excellent. 13 Fantasy is a horse on the up as a debut winner, following up with two game runner-up efforts. He gets in with only 118lb on his back. This race looks suitable. 1 Snap Fit is looking to snap a run of two minor placings after winning his first three starts in Hong Kong. The inside gate will afford him every opportunity. 3 Team Spirit has race experience and he should be around the mark again.

RACE 9 (1,200M)

14 Wellington couldn't have been more impressive on debut, when winning by three lengths. On that performance, he remains a top chance. 1 Harmony Spirit steps out on debut following a five-start career in Britain, where he bagged two wins. He looked sound in his trials and warrants plenty of respect. 2 Ballistic King has been consistent all season, finishing no worse than 11/4 lengths behind the winner in all six starts, including a win for himself. 5 Be Ready has shown glimpses of ability. If he can piece it all together, he's not without a hope, especially with Purton in the saddle. RACE 10 (1,400M) 6 Uncle Steve is a serious talent on the rise. He's a winner of two of his last three starts. Last time out, he defeated a classier field than this. 5 Star Performance has largely gone off the boil since his debut win. If he does manage to put his best foot forward, he's in with a winning chance. 4 Happy Fun led all the way in his second start this term. Since then, he has been racing well, placing in three of his last four starts. 8 Joyful Union got off the mark this term two starts ago. He is making his Sha Tin debut, which isn't easy, but warrants respect on his form.

• Comments courtesy of The Hong Kong Jockey Club

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2020, with the headline 'Exultant looks good for back-to-back Gold Cups'. Print Edition | Subscribe