by Declan Schuster (Hong Kong Jockey Club)
August 29, 2019
The Hong Kong Jockey Club's 2019/2020 season kicks off Saturday night, August 31, with a ten-race card. Here are free picks from HKJC handicapper, Declan Schuster.
Race 1: #3 Good Runners Way, #1 Gold Velvet, #4 Regency Gem, #2 Le Panache
Race 2: #12 Richcity Fortune, #1 Blade Racer, #7 Never Better, #8 Golden Cannon
Race 3: #1 Wishful Thinker, #5 Regency Legend, #7 Styling City, #6 Jolly Banner
Race 4: #2 Falcon Turbo, #8 Blastoise, #13 Nice Fandango, #10 Lucky Guy
Race 5: #2 Pearl Champion, #4 Royal Racer, #8 Dashing Dart, #11 Casimiro
Race 6: #1 Dancing Fighter, #2 Allied Agility, #4 Ka Ying Master, #5 Sunshine Universe
Race 7: #6 Mr Croissant, #3 Golden Sixty, #9 Shimmer And Shine, #7 New Asia Sunrise
Race 8: #5 Easy Go Easy Win, #2 Fast Most Furious, #4 King Opie, #11 Playa Del Puente
Race 9: #7 Winning Method, #1 Multimillion, #9 Glenealy Generals, #3 Jing Jing Win
Race 10: #6 Unicron Jewellery, #5 Cordyceps, #9 Mongolian Legend, #7 World Famous
Race 1: Mount Butler Handicap (1:00AM ET)
#3 Good Runners Way gets the nod in the opener. He was nearing a breakthrough win at the tail end of last season and if he’s held his condition since that run then he’s the one to beat with Zac Purton aboard. #1 Gold Velvet improved sharply once he returned to Class 5 last season. He’s a winner in this grade previously and he bears close watching. #4 Regency Gem impressed in a recent trial under Joao Moreira, quickening when asked to score by half a length. He deserves respect. #2 Le Panache has shown glimpses of ability and if he finds any of that here, he can figure.
Race 2: Mount Parker Handicap (1:30AM ET)
#12 Richcity Fortune will roll forward to lead. He’s drawn to find the front with ease and with only 118lb on his back, he’s capable of pinching this. #1 Blade Racer put in a career-best fourth at his final appearance last season. Expect him to try the same again and if he can shoulder the 133lb, he’s a major player. #7 Never Better hit a purple patch of form late last season. He’s drawn a touch awkward here but if he gets a race run to suit, he’s capable of making his presence felt. #8 Golden Cannon is an honest racer and he should be around the mark again.
Race 3: The HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (Handicap) (2:00AM ET)
#1 Wishful Thinker returns following an international campaign which saw him finish midfield in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint. Suspect he’s yet to reach his full potential and this race is a suitable starting point for his 2019/20 campaign. #5 Regency Legend is hard to fault as the unbeaten runner in the field but this is another class rise that may prove difficult, especially first-up. #7 Styling City has mixed his form of late and it’s hard to get a gauge on what level he is racing at, but he has in his favour an excellent effort in his latest trial. He remains a big watch. #6 Jolly Banner is no stranger to surprising at big odds. His trackwork records suggest he’s primed for a big first-up run.
Race 4: Ma On Shan Handicap (2:30AM ET)
#2 Falcon Turbo is a handy galloper who shouldered top-weight duties to a narrow defeat at his final run of last season. He’s returned to a competitive mark and the good gate will ensure he gets every chance under Vincent Ho. #8 Blastoise made ground from the rear of the field last start to finish an eye-catching fifth. He’s an improving type who from the gate should be afforded every opportunity. #13 Nice Fandango is the likely leader. He’ll roll forward to offset the wide gate and as a winner in this grade he commands respect. #10 Lucky Guy has been consistent albeit without winning since early 2017. He closed nicely under a strong hold in his latest trial and he’s a place chance.
Race 5: Kowloon Peak Handicap (3:00AM ET)
#2 Pearl Champion got off the mark in the middle of last season and since then he’s run poorly only when he’s drawn wide. He’ll jump from the inside this time which should see him in the right spot to win this. #4 Royal Racer found form late last season. If he’s held his condition he’s going to be hard to run down. #8 Dashing Dart has been a model of consistency across his career. He has drawn awkwardly here but he should have his chance. #11 Casimiro has done very little on the track across his 11-start career. A recent trial however suggested improvement and the booking of Joao Moreira infers he might be ready to piece it all together.
Race 6: Yi Tung Shan Handicap (3:35AM ET)
Difficult to split the top three, however the suspicion is that #1 Dancing Fighter is the one with the most upside. He showed plenty of talent last season, scoring impressively on debut before finishing a narrow second last start. He’s trialled well leading into this and he’s going to prove tough to beat with Zac Purton aboard. #2 Allied Agility raced away on debut before pulling up lame at his latest start. He’s done everything right in the off-season and his latest trial suggests he’s returned to form. #4 Ka Ying Master got off the mark on debut last season and he’s looking to remain unbeaten with a win here. He’ll roll forward and make his own luck. #5 Sunshine Universe has race experience on his side. He’s always worth including in these races.
Race 7: Sunset Peak Handicap (4:05AM ET)
#6 Mr Croissant is a serious talent on the rise and his latest trial highlighted his readiness to win first-up. He’s yet to finish outside of the top three across his career and this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. #3 Golden Sixty notched up three unbeaten efforts before fading to finish a distant 10th at his final run last season. He’s trialled well leading into this and he has the credentials to win. #9 Shimmer And Shine is a handy galloper on his day. He’s a two-time Class 4 winner who has place claims. #7 New Asia Sunrise hasn’t won since mid-2017. That is unlikely to change here but if he’s ridden on the speed, he could find himself in the money.
Race 8: Tai Mo Shan Handicap (4:35AM ET)
#5 Easy Go Easy Win comes out of a winless campaign last season. He put together a few nice performances late-season and his latest trial effort suggests he’s ready to make a winning return. #2 Fast Most Furious was an eye-catching winner in the final race of last season, surging from the rear to get up. This race is well within his reach as long as he can shoulder the extra 13lb. #4 King Opie is a consistent customer who is a two-time course and distance winner. Suspect we still haven’t seen his best and from the soft gate he should have no excuses. #11 Playa Del Puente is an intriguing import from Ireland. He may want further but his only trial in Hong Kong warrants respect.
Race 9: Lantau Peak Handicap (5:10AM ET)
#7 Winning Method returns following an impressive first campaign which returned two consecutive wins as well as a debut second behind Aethero. He’s returned in excellent order and if his condition improved over the summer then this is his for the taking. #1 Multimillion is a model of consistency who is a three-time Class 3 winner. He’ll be up on the speed early attempting to make all. #9 Glenealy Generals performed well first-up last season and a repeat of that effort has him in contention. #3 Jing Jing Win has drawn poorly but he’s nearing his mark and with Zac Purton aboard, he bears close watching.
Race 10: Lin Fa Shan Handicap (5:45AM ET)
#6 Unicron Jewellery returns for his fourth season. Admittedly he’s done his best racing over the mile but this isn’t an overly strong affair and the soft draw should see him get a charmed run throughout. #5 Cordyceps did everything right last season and was unlucky not to have won more than once. He’ll make his own luck out in front and from there give them something to run down. #9 Mongolian Legend performed well at his final run of last season. A repeat of that effort will see him in the finish. #7 World Famous performed impressively when fresh last season. His first two outings were far and away his best and a recent trial indicates that he is ready to do the same again.