Hong Kong Preview: Dragon to continue Winning ways
Former Chilean Classic hero #1 Winning Dragon can make it three consecutive victories in the Luk Wu Handicap at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Winning Dragon arrived in Hong Kong after taking out four of his six starts in Chile, including two Grade 1 races for sophomores, when known as Preparante: the Alberto Vial Infante over about one mile at Club Hipico in December 2020, and Valparaiso’s El Derby over about 1 1/2 miles in February 2021.
The rechristened Winning Dragon didn’t live up to his name in his early Hong Kong starts, finishing no closer than fifth in his first seven starts. But in the last two months he’s found his form, winning Happy Valley contests Nov. 16 and Dec. 7. Both were at 1,650 meters (about one mile, 40 yards), the same distance as Wednesday’s race.
The efforts have seen him go up in the ratings from 67 to 78, and he will carry topweight of 133 pounds. However, he has a useful enough barrier of six, and Luke Ferraris should have him just off the speed, ready to pounce in the stretch.
Winning Dragon’s biggest danger is likely to be the consistent #2 Comet Splendido. A three-time winner in England when known as Maison de York, Comet Splendido has never finished further back than fifth in six Hong Kong starts. He won nicely two starts back prior to a third-place finish behind Winning Dragon Nov. 16.
That day, Comet Splendido conceded seven pounds to Winning Dragon, whereas this time he’s receiving three pounds and has the benefit of Zac Purton aboard. However, Winning Dragon has looked stylish, and it’s not clear that a 10-pound turnaround will be enough to change the result.
Besides Winning Dragon there are two other last-start winners. The better prospect of the pair may be #8 Exceptional Nice, who took more than two years and 25 starts to record his first victory in Hong Kong, despite seven second-place finishes. However, the experience of winning clearly did him good as he followed that win Oct. 19 with another one at his next start Nov. 23. Karis Teetan takes the ride.
#10 Win Win Fighter took out a Class 4 event narrowly Dec. 12, but is likely to find this harder. Other decent exotic possibilities include #4 Amazing One Plus, #5 Super Dynamite, and #12 Storm Legend.
Happy Valley Race 9 Wagers
Bonus play – New Zealand
Rotorua, Tuesday Dec. 27, Race 4, MacMillan Accountants 1560
- $10 win/$30 show, #4 Ozark: Showed ability last term and put in a solid effort when resuming. Ready to step up and win here.