Hong Kong Preview: Comet has splendid prospects

September 27th, 2022

#7 Comet Splendido has an excellent chance of reversing the form with #6 Nearly Fine in Wednesday’s Wan Chai Handicap at Happy Valley.

The pair met two weeks ago in a 1,650-meter (about 1 mile and 40 yard) event, with Nearly Fine getting up late to down Packing Famous and Comet Splendido.

Packing Famous franked the form with another second-place finish last week, suggesting the horses either side of him should be worth watching again in this race.

A few factors give Comet Splendido great prospects of turning the tables. Firstly, the barrier draws — usually a big factor at Happy Valley — have been reversed, with Comet Splendido starting closer to the rail than his rival. Secondly, he meets Nearly Fine on four-pound better terms with the changes in their ratings.

Thirdly, the increase in distance to 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) may help Comet Splendido more than Nearly Fine. Comet Splendido’s one start at the distance in Hong Kong produced a close second to #5 Super Oasis, while Nearly Fine hasn’t finished within two lengths of the winner in his two attempts at the trip.

The aforementioned Super Oasis can’t be ignored either. A dual Group 2 winner in New Zealand when known as Surely Sacred, Super Oasis was disappointing when first arriving in Hong Kong, but a move to Tony Cruz’s stable late last season seems to have rejuvenated him, and he won two of his last three starts.

#4 S J Tourbillon, a Hampton Court Stakes (G3) placegetter at Royal Ascot for Aidan O’Brien when known as Roman Empire, was third at his only Happy Valley start last season and can figure in the finish here, while #1 Superbella and #3 Romantic Combo are others to consider for exotics.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Comet Splendido
  • $1.30 trifecta: 7 with 4, 5, 6 with 1, 3, 4, 5, 6

Bonus Play — New Zealand

Otaki, Race 6, Harcourts Otaki Maiden, 1,600 meters (about one mile)

  • $10 win/$30 show, #8 Extraordinaire: Finished solidly for second at Waverley Sept. 11 behind a Graded Stakes placegetter and should appreciate the step up from seven furlongs.