Hong Kong Preview: Clash of three titans at Sha Tin

January 27th, 2023

It’s hard to think of a clash in Hong Kong racing that’s ever been as mouth-watering as this one.

Established champ Golden Sixty, Hong Kong Cup (G1) winner Romantic Warrior, and Hong Kong Mile (G1) winner California Spangle — three of the best horses ever trained in Hong Kong — all meet for the first time in the Stewards’ Cup (G1) over about a mile.

Their clash is so eagerly anticipated that it’s overshadowing the first leg of the rich Hong Kong 4-Year-Old Series, the Hong Kong Classic Mile — a race won by Golden Sixty in 2020 and in which Romantic Warrior beat California Spangle last year.

Below are some suggested plays for both races.

Race 7, 3:05 a.m. Sunday ET: The Stewards’ Cup (G1), 1,600 meters (about one mile), open

Stewards' Cup Selections

  • #2 Romantic Warrior
  • #1 Golden Sixty
  • #3 California Spangle

Stewards' Cup Wagers

  • $20 win: #2 Romantic Warrior
  • $3 trifecta: 2 with 1, 3 with 1, 3

This is absolutely what horse racing is all about. Best of all, it’s difficult to predict who’s actually going to win.

Golden Sixty and Romantic Warrior have never met, but there is form with the others. Romantic Warrior and California Spangle have met three times, all in last year’s 4-Year-Old Series, with the score 2-1 to Romantic Warrior. There have also been three clashes between Golden Sixty and California Spangle; Golden Sixty won the first two, giving weight away in the second clash, before a tactical battle worked out in California Spangle’s favor in the Hong Kong Mile (G1).

Most likely, California Spangle will lead and try to stack the field up. Romantic Warrior will be close to the pace, with Golden Sixty behind him. I think Golden Sixty can get past California Spangle this time, but I’m predicting Romantic Warrior will beat them both. He looked an absolute superstar in the Hong Kong Cup, and if he can reproduce that 1 1/4-mile form over a mile — which he has previously — then he can win again.

Race 9, 4:15 a.m. Sunday ET: The Hong Kong Classic Mile, 1,600 meters, 4-year-olds

Hong Kong Classic Mile Selections

  • #2 Keefy
  • #3 Packing Treadmill
  • #5 Sweet Encounter
  • #4 Beautyverse

Hong Kong Classic Mile Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #2 Keefy
  • $1.30 trifecta: 2, 3 with 2, 3, 5 with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10

This is an interesting clash. The best-performed horse is #1 Cordyceps Six, but he hasn’t raced past about six furlongs, and it’s hard to assess his stamina.

Among those proven around a mile, #2 Keefy and #3 Packing Treadmill look the best. Keefy won decisively in Class 2 company two starts back before finishing third to Packing Treadmill, who was scoring his third victory in succession. However, Keefy was conceding 14 pounds that day and was just 1 1/2 lengths back, and they are at level weights here.

#4 Beautyverse, #5 Sweet Encounter, #6 Flagship Warrior, and #10 Tuchel look the best of the others.