Sunday morning 8.35 – it’s time for the 2017 renewal of the Hong Kong Derby. The winner will net a cool £1,1 million! Local horses are favoured to land the odds with a red hot favourite seemingly unbeatable – yet I do strongly fancy a fresh UK import.
The favourite: Odds-on and very well fancied – with some experts claiming he’s nearly unbeatable in the Derby – the exciting Rapper Dragon ticks plenty of the right boxes, indeed.
Still unbeaten this season and a winner of both the Classic Mile and the Classic Cup as part of the Four Year Old Classic Series, he created a big impression and build up a reputation of being incredibly versatile and owning a trademark turn of foot.
The form book says Rapper Dragon is probably hard to beat tomorrow, even more so as he has been allotted a perfect draw. But he is a very short price and has yet to prove his stamina over the 2.000 meter trip.
His sire Street Boss is not necessarily known for stamina so if there is at least a small home in Rapper Dragon’s chance then it must be this one. However that only has a real impact if the race is a strong run one, which we can’t be sure of.
Main Contenders: Nonetheless there is some fair opposition on hand to make life difficult for the favourite. Exciting Pakistan Star is a real crowd favourite. An honest, fast finishing son of Shamardal out of a 1m2f Listed race winning mare, he may improve for the step up in trip, but will need to have things fall right for him from a wide draw.
Eagle Way had a rough ride in the Classic Cup and might be better than the fourth place finish. Former UK based Booming Delight has excelled in Hong Kong since his move last summer. He won three on the trot lately. Ex-Australian Beauty Generation has a bit too find on recent form but could easily improve for the trip.
The one I do strongly fancy is another UK import, however, one who’s still a somewhat unknown quantity in Hong Kong: Gold Mount (ex-Primitivo). He was always ahead of the handicapper in Britain, winning impressively at Royal Ascot a strong Handicap.
He showed versatility during his time in Britain, given he won from 1 1/2m to 1m 4f on soft to good to firm ground and particularly in his last two starts at Sandown and Ascot he produced a nice turn of foot, though hanging badly in the closing stages.
Clearly a raw talent, he moved subsequently to Hong Kong where he was relatively unfancied on debut in a hot handicap over seemingly too short 1.600m. He was outpaced on the home turn an then got stuck in traffic, switched by Mosse to the inside rail, a move that cost momentum, but regained control quickly and thundered home in impressive style.
There is no doubt that he should come on leaps and bounds for the run and more improvement is expected for the step up to a more suitable trip like the Derby’s 2.000 meter.
He’s got a half decent draw but his running style means he may need a bit of in-running luck. Granted he gets a run through I’m hopeful he’s good enough to be thereabouts.
Longshot: Far below the pecking order but a horse not to underestimate is Helene Charisma at odds around 33’s – a huge price for a French Group 1 winner, though in three starts he hasn’t quite fired at Hong Kong yet. That is somehow explainable over trips too short and on unsuitable fast ground.
There are positives taken from his last start though, when upped to 2.000m for the first time in Hong Kong and only a lengths beaten in fifth by Booming Delight. He encountered an absolute nightmare run but still finished as well as he did.
The ground is likely not going to be all that fast as it was the last two times, that must be a positive. His wide draw may or may not be negative, as he may encounter a less troubled passage actually, with the opportunity to come with a sweeping run on the outside to catch the leaders making his stamina in abundance count.
10pts win – Gold Mount @ 11/1 Unibet
5pts win – Helene Charisma @ 33/1 Unibet