The 2020-21 racing season is underway in Hong Kong, with ultra-competitive cards at Sha Tin and Happy Valley taking place twice a week. Enticing payoffs are the norm if you can sort through the deep fields and put together winning exotic wagers.

Planning to bet Hong Kong this winter? You’ve picked a great time to start, with the prestigious Hong Kong International Races slated to take place on Dec. 13.

To help you get started, here are three trends to keep in mind when handicapping Hong Kong racing:

Favorites perform well over the Sha Tin dirt

Although its name suggests otherwise, the all-weather track at Sha Tin is actually a dirt surface, and one that plays kindly toward favorites. Despite the large and competitive fields prevalent in Hong Kong, top betting choices win 30% of the time when racing 1,200 meters or 1,650 meters over the dirt. This success rate jumps to a lofty 56% in 1,800-meter events, albeit from a small sample size.

Furthermore, favorites crack the trifecta from 61% to 69% of the time over the Sha Tin dirt, depending on the distance. If you want to find reliable favorites in Hong Kong, the all-weather track is a good place to look.

Asian-based runners have an edge in the Hong Kong International Races

Although horses from around the globe travel to compete in the four Hong Kong International Races every December, horses based in Asia have been dominant in recent years.

Locally-based Hong Kong runners have won the last six editions of the Hong Kong Sprint (G1), a streak that followed back-to-back victories by Japanese shipper Lord Kanaloa. The Hong King Mile (G1) has been equally lucrative for Asian runners; you have to go back to Firebreak in 2004 to find a winner based outside of Asia.

The Hong Kong Vase (G1) has historically been richer pickings for intercontinental raiders, but the tide appears to be turning with three of the last four renewals going to Asian runners (including two from Japan). The Hong Kong Cup (G1) has undergone a similar shift, with the last nine editions going to Hong Kong and Japan.

That’s not to say a capable European shipper can’t steal the show in a race like the Hong Kong Vase. But opposing short-priced intercontinental shippers may prove to be a winning strategy in 2020 and beyond.

Bet Moreira, Purton, and Teetan

Acclaimed jockeys Joao Moreira and Zac Purton have dominated the Hong Kong jockey rankings in recent years, winning a bevy of important stakes races while splitting seven consecutive champion rider titles between them. They’ve combined to win 12 of the 24 Hong Kong International Races held since 2014, and they currently rank one-two (with Moreira on top) in the 2020-21 jockey standings.

But while Moreira and Purton warrant respect, don’t overlook Karis Teetan, who finished third in the 2019-20 jockey standings. The former South African rider has been steadily climbing the ranks in Hong Kong, winning the 2018 Hong Kong Sprint (G1) aboard Mr Stunning, and in 2019 he prevailed in the International Jockey’s Championship.

With 23 victories through Dec. 2, Teetan ranks third in the 2020-21 jockey standings, just five wins behind Purton. He’s been particularly successful over the all-weather (dirt) track at Sha Tin, topping the charts with six victories so far. Continued success should be in the offing as Teetan gains recognition and picks up better mounts.

Good luck with your handicapping!