Get ready! Group 1 racing in Hong Kong returns on Sunday, January 19 with the Stewards’ Cup (G1) and Centenary Sprint Cup (G1) at Sha Tin.
This classy double-header is made all the more exciting by the quality of the participants. Some of Hong Kong’s best horses will be in action, including Beauty Generation, Waikuku, and Beat the Clock.
Since the fields are small but competitive, let’s focus on betting the always-lucrative trifectas and seek to make this special day even more memorable with a couple of significant winning wagers.
Race 5: The Stewards’ Cup (Group 1, 1:15 a.m. ET)
Reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year #1 Beauty Generation is the big name in this 1,600-meter Group 1 test, but the 7-year-old gelding enters off three straight defeats and appears to have lost a step. That’s not to say he’s no longer competitive—he was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths when third in the Hong Kong Mile (G1) last time out—but he’s definitely been lacking his finishing punch.
Nor will Beauty Generation be aided by the post position assignments for the Stewards’ Cup. He’s drawn the rail with key pace rivals #2 Rattan and #7 Ka Ying Star in posts 2 and 3, leaving Beauty Generation with no good choice except to come out running and face pace pressure from the start.
That’s why we’re going to side with #3 Waikuku. Conditioned by John Size, this rapidly-improving 5-year-old has finished ahead of Beauty Generation in their last three meetings, most recently coming home second by just a half-length in the Hong Kong Mile. These days, Waikuku simply has the faster finishing kick, and with plenty of pace in the Stewards’ Cup field, he can come rolling late under leading jockey Joao Moreira to secure his first Group 1 win.
$26 to Win on #3 Waikuku
$6.50 Trifecta: 3 with 1 with 4,5 ($13)
Race 7: The Centenary Sprint Cup (Group 1, 2:20 a.m. ET)
Talk about a tough race! Six of the top seven finishers from last month’s Hong Kong Sprint (G1) are back in this 1,200-meter dash, and considering how little separated them in the Hong Kong Sprint—just two lengths—you can make a case for pretty much any of them.
Ultimately, I’m going to take the least creative approach and support Hong Kong Sprint winner #1 Beat the Clock. A super-consistent 6-year-old, Beat the Clock has never finished out of the trifecta in 23 starts and won the 2019 Centenary Sprint Cup with a sharp rally from midpack.
Beat the Clock enters this year’s Centenary Sprint Cup relatively fresh with just two recent runs under his belt. In the Hong Kong Sprint, he rallied from sixth in a race otherwise dominated by speed horses to win by a neck, sprinting the final two 400-meter sectionals in :21.90 and :22.07.
With regular rider Moreira in the saddle, Beat the Clock should have the goods to secure his second consecutive Group 1 triumph. We’ll bet him to win and key him on top of a triftecta with #2 Hot King Prawn, #3 Mr Stunning, and #4 Full of Beauty underneath.
$15.60 to Win on #1 Beat the Clock
$2.60 Trifecta: 1 with 2,3,4 with 2,3,4 ($15.60)