Hong Kong Preview: Alex seeks a princely triumph

January 3rd, 2023

#4 Prince Alex can progress from a last-start third to win the Hoi Yuen Handicap at Happy Valley on Wednesday.

Happy Valley Race 9 plays:

  • $10 win/$30 show: #4 Prince Alex ($40)
  • $1.30 trifecta: 3, 4 with 1, 3, 4 with 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 ($20.80)

A two-time winner who was stakes-placed in Victoria when known as Prince Alexander, the four-year-old finished fifth at his first four Hong Kong starts before making up good ground for third in a Class 3 event Dec. 14 at Happy Valley over 1,650 meters (about 1 mile, 40 yards), the same trip as this race.

Prince Alex didn’t pick up any ratings points for that effort, so he’s still well in at the weights. From barrier six, jockey Antoine Hamelin should be able to find a midfield spot close to the rail and deliver a strong challenge in the stretch.

Not far behind Prince Alex in that Dec. 14 race was #3 Dynamic Spirit. The dual Brazilian Classic winner finished fourth that day, his best effort in five Hong Kong starts, but he had to work hard to get to the front from a wide gate and was still available to fight hard in the stretch.

With a nicer barrier draw of five and Zac Purton back in the saddle, Dynamic Spirit can get a cosier run in transit and challenge hard in the stretch.

Course specialist #1 Red Majesty, a winner of eight races at the city circuit, can’t be ignored after two strong efforts for second at his last two performances. However, he has a horror draw of 11 to contend with, and it will take all of apprentice Angus Chung’s skills to get him near the lead, where he likes to be. Chung’s 10-pound allowance will undoubtedly help.

#8 Casa Cosmo could be an interesting horse to watch for odds. A two-race winner in Australia when known as Benczkowski, he was totally unwanted at his Hong Kong debut Dec. 4 but made ground well over about seven furlongs at Sha Tin. By Tavistock, he is bred to excel over at least a mile and could find his way into the placings.

The consistent #7 Majestic Victory and #5 All Beauty are others to consider for exotics.

Bonus play – New Zealand

Reefton, Wednesday Jan. 4, Race 6, 9:56 p.m. ET: Ken Gray Memorial Reefton Cup

  • $10 win/$40 place, #2 Kopua: Trainer Kevin Myers is usually very successful on the New Year circuit on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, and Kopua was second in this race last year. He was runner-up in the Stewards (G3) at his last start and is well up to winning this.