Veteran hoop Jim Byrne will chase a fourth...
Former Kiwi galloper Werther is the dominant favourite in Hong Kong Cup 2017 betting for the HK$25 million feature at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday.
One of the four official Hong Kong International Race Day features, this season’s Group 1 HK$25 million Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) field and betting is led by Tavistock six-year-old.
The gelding began his career in New Zealand before a three race stint in Australia during 2015 that saw him run second in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m), win the Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) and finish runner-up in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2200m) as a three-year-old.
He travelled to Sha Tin for the first time that December and kicked off his career in Hong Kong with a win, Werther the picture of consistency ever since.
The gun galloper has continued to string together and impressive record of Group 1 wins and top three placings including his victory in last year’s Group 1 Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m).
Now prepared by former Sydney horseman John Moore, who won the Hong Kong Cup with Designs On Rome back in 2014, Werther is out to be the first Hong Kong-trained winner of the feature since after Japanese raiders saluted in 2015 (A Shin Hikari) and 2016 (Maurice).
Tommy Berry’s regular mount, Werther was last seen saluting in the key lead-up race to Sunday’s lucrative classic taking out the Hong Kong Jockey Club Cup (2000m) on November 19.
The main dangers to Werther according to the Hong Kong Cup odds are Neorealism ($6) out to make it three on the trot for Japanese-trained gallopers and Poet’s Word ($6.50) from the UK.
Six-year-old Neorealism is prepared by last year’s Hong Kong Cup winning trainer Noriyuki Hori and is back at Sha Tin for the first time since his victory in the QEII Cup (2000m) in late April.
Poet’s Word meanwhile makes his Hong Kong debut on the weekend, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old chasing his first win since August.
The galloper is looking to improve on a last start second at Ascot in October’s Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes that featured this weekend’s Hong Kong Vase favourite Highland Reel (3rd).
Time Warp ($7) is the other major player according to the bookies, the locally-trained four-year-old representing master trainer Tony Cruz who enjoyed back-to-back wins in the race with California Memory (2011-12).
Last prep Time Warp won three on the trot including The Sha Tin Mile Trophy (1600m) and has finished in the money in all three of his starts this time in.
Most recently the galloper finished runner-up to Werther in The Jockey Club Cup with the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira in the saddle.
One of the roughie hopes at $34 meanwhile is Harry Dunlop’s English raider Robin Of Navan to be ridden by 23-year-old Aussie hoop Sam Clipperton.
“We needed a good jockey so we asked around and a few people said Sam could do a good job for us,” Dunlop told the South China Morning Post.
Head to Ladbrokes.com.au now for the latest Hong Kong Cup 2017 odds and Sha Tin Sunday racing markets.
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