Hong Kong Preview: Money Catcher poised to take January Cup

January 10th, 2023

The January Cup (G3) is normally a highly competitive handicap, but it might be very hard to topple a horse that placed at international Group 1 level at his last start.

January Cup wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #2 Money Catcher
  • $1.30 trifecta: 2 with 3, 5, 7 with 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11

A multiple graded stakes placegetter in New Zealand when known as Jason Belltree, #2 Money Catcher has been very consistent at a high level for the past year. He finished third in the Hong Kong Derby in the spring behind subsequent Group 1 winners Romantic Warrior and California Spangle, and broke through for his first Hong Kong victory in the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (G3) Nov. 6.

Two starts later, Money Catcher tackled the richest race in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Cup (G1). Again he found Romantic Warrior too strong, but he battled on for third, ahead of international Group 1 performers Russian Emperor, Panthalassa, and Order of Australia.

There’s no Romantic Warrior in this about 1 1/8-mile test, and though Money Catcher gives away weight to most of the runners, his form is stronger than most of his opponents. His biggest potential battle is how he handles the tight Happy Valley track, but he has finished in the first three in both his previous starts at the city circuit.

Helping his cause is that the entry of #1 Glorious Dragon, rated eight pounds higher than Money Catcher despite not having run since December 2021, has compressed the handicap. This means the bottom nine horses in the 12-horse field all carry the minimum 115 pounds, and though Money Catcher concedes 12 pounds to all these runners, he would have given away even more to most of them had he been the topweight.

It will be interesting to see who bettors target apart from Money Catcher. #3 Berlin Tango continues to run consistently and loves Happy Valley, while #4 Butterfield has like Money Catcher been running in stronger company and will appreciate the weight relief.

#5 Cheerful Days has won five times at Happy Valley and though he hasn’t scored for 11 months, he will enjoy returning to this class. #7 Packing Award also has a great record at Happy Valley and can be forgiven for his last-start failure as he was caught wide throughout. #8 Rise Brethren, #10 Looking Great, and #11 Nearly Fine are other exotics prospects, but Money Catcher looks the one to have on top.