The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Flying hoop Zac Purton could be in for back-to-back Group 1 wins at Sha Tin on Sunday riding the both favourites in the opening two elite levels at Hong Kong’s International Race Day including Aethero in the Hong Kong Sprint 2019 field.
One race earlier the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) runs as the first of four majors on the program with Purton aboard the Tony Cruz-trained top elect Exultant.
Next-up in Sha Tin Race 5, Purton is again engaged to ride the punters’ pick in the HK$20 million LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) partnering John Moore’s ace Sebring three-year-old Aethero.
The youngest horse in this year’s 14-starter Hong Kong sprint field, Aethero sits top of the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au nearly odds-on territory at $2.10 for his maiden Group 1 start.
He has won back-to-back races leading up to Sunday’s acid test including an eye-catching performance in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on November 17 where he defeated dual Hong Kong Sprint winner Mr Stunning.
“We’ll go to the Hong Kong Sprint now, and it’s an international Group 1 so his work will be cut out for him,” Moore told The New York Times.
“But you can’t ask anything more, and he’ll still have a nice weight concession as a Southern Hemisphere three-year-old.”
Drawn in barrier 10, Aethero is allocated just 53kg as he faces nine of the same rivals he beat home in the Jockey Club Sprint.
Among those is the aforementioned two-time defending champion Mr Stunning (eighth), the veteran seven-year-old looking to turn the tables on his younger last-start conqueror and make history as the first three-time HK Sprint winner.
Drawn in barrier two and paying $11 in the latest Hong Kong Sprint betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au, the son of Exceed And Excel is a seven-time winner at the track and distance and has Hugh Bowman aboard on the weekend.
The other top three runners in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint, D B Pin (2nd) and dual Chairman’s Sprint Prize winner Beat The Clock (3rd) also return for the 2019 edition having run sixth and third respectively in last month’s Jockey Club Sprint.
The John Size-trained Beat The Clock has drawn ideally in barrier three for the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira and pays $6 in the Hong Kong Sprint odds for Sunday.
At a similar price to Mr Stunning in the Hong Kong Sprint markets is Australia’s own In Her Time, the Kris Lees-trained mare jumping from gate four with Brenton Avdulla aboard for her international debut.
Chasing her first win since the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington in mid-February, In Her Time was last seen running third to Nature Strip in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) over the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Along with In Her Time, the only other overseas runner in this year’s Hong Kong Sprint field is Japanese four-year-old Danon Smash ($21) to be ridden by Frankie Dettori from gate eight.
Hong Kong Sprint 2019 Field & Barriers
|1||BEAT THE CLOCK||57kg||J Moreira||3||J Size|
|2||D B PIN||57kg||R Moore||13||J Size|
|3||MR STUNNING||57kg||H Bowman||2||F C Lor|
|4||HOT KING PRAWN||57kg||K Teetan||1||J Size|
|5||RATTAN||57kg||C Schofield||6||R Gibson|
|6||LITTLE GIANT||57kg||J McDonald||7||D J Hall|
|7||DANON SMASH||57kg||L Dettori||8||T Yasuda|
|8||IVICTORY||57kg||A Sanna||11||J Size|
|9||WISHFUL THINKER||57kg||C Soumillon||9||R Gibson|
|10||SEASONS BLOOM||57kg||G van Niekerk||14||C S Shum|
|11||FULL OF BEAUTY||57kg||C Y Ho||5||J Size|
|12||REGENCY LEGEND||57kg||S de Sousa||12||C S Shum|
|13||IN HER TIME||55.5kg||B Avdulla||4||K Lees|
|14||AETHERO||53kg||Z Purton||10||J Moore|
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