Happy New Year!

The 2019-20 racing season in Hong Kong continues on New Year’s Day with a 10-race card at Sha Tin. The highlight of the day is the Chinese Club Challenge Cup (G3), but just as intriguing is the Chinese Banyan Handicap, in which the improving Quadruple Double will seek to secure his third consecutive victory.

Let’s endeavor to start the year on a winning note with two spot plays:

Race 7: The Chinese Club Challenge Cup (Group 3) (2:20 a.m. EST)

#1 Seasons Bloom and #2 Ka Ying Star have been facing much tougher company, the former while sprinting 1,200 meters and the latter while negotiating 1,600 meters. Today they’ll drop in class and square off over 1,400 meters, a middle distance that should be suitable for both of these established stars.

But there’s no guarantee one or the other will reach the winner’s circle. #8 Golden Sixty is a rising star with six wins from seven starts, including two recent triumphs over 1,400 meters. A late-running son of Medaglia d’Oro, Golden Sixty has a strong stretch kick, which he demonstrated two starts back when finishing in :21.65 to win a 1,400-meter Class 2 handicap in the class-record time of 1:20.29.

Golden Sixty is stepping up in class, but he’ll carry just 114 pounds, substantially less than Seasons Bloom (133) and Ka Ying Star (129). His form is heading in the right direction, and one more step forward could land him in the winner’s circle.

Let’s key Golden Sixty in the quinella with the highweights:

$10.40 quinella: 8 with 1,2 ($20.80)

Race 8: Chinese Banyan Handicap (Class 3) (2:50 a.m.)

#2 Quadruple Double has seemingly forgotten how to lose. Since returning from a layoff in September, he’s won three of his five starts (placing in the other two) while rising steadily up the class ladder. He’s improved his rating from 52 at the start of the season to 74 heading into Wednesday’s race.

The secret to Quadruple Double’s success is his tactical speed combined with the ability to kick on strongly in the stretch. How do you catch a front-runner who can sprint home the final 400 meters of a 1,200-meter sprint in less than 23 seconds? All three of his wins have come over this course and 1,200-meter distance, and he was particularly brilliant in a Class 3 handicap on December 15, running the final two 400-meter sectionals in :22.48 and :22.36 to pull away and win by 2 1/4 lengths.

Anything close to a repeat of his recent runs should secure Quadruple Double another victory. We’ll bet him to win and key him in the quinella with #5 Good Beauty and #8 Lucky More:

$26 to win on #2 Quadruple Double
$11.70 quinella: 2 with 5,8 ($23.40)

Good luck!