Hong Kong Preview: Nordic Dragon can remain unbeaten
The proven experience of #1 Excellent Peers, or the excitement of newcomer #11 Nordic Dragon?
That appears to be the question for punters trying to work out the Saturn Handicap, the about six-furlong Class 3 race that rounds off the evening at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Excellent Peers seems to have grown another leg since joining the Frankie Lor team earlier this year. From seven starts for Lor — all at Happy Valley — the son of former New Zealand Derby winner Jimmy Choux has won four races and finished second in the other three.
He’s won his last two comfortably, and looks to be going places. He will have a change of rider this week, with Matthew Chadwick out for some time after fracturing an ankle at the barrier trials last week; however, former world jockey of the year Hugh Bowman is a more than adequate fill-in.
However, Excellent Peers may find it tough to keep his streak going with the three-year-old Nordic Dragon, from the Danny Shum stable. He showed a lot in training ahead of his debut in Class 4 company Nov. 23, which saw him go out a 3-2 favorite, and he didn’t disappoint, leading all the way and opening up in the stretch to win by more than three lengths.
Nordic Dragon moves up to Class 3 here but despite his 11-pound rating hike for his victory, he’s going to be at the bottom of the weights here on 119 pounds, receiving 16 pounds from Excellent Peers, possibly enough to give him the edge.
The pair are drawn seven (Excellent Peers) and eight, tricky draws from the six-furlong Happy Valley start, but they may have enough of a class advantage to overcome those.
#3 Winning Icey remains in top form and must be included in exotics, as should #2 Super Fortune, #8 Smokey Bear, and #9 Lucky Archangel. Keep an eye on the market also for debutant #10 Hyper Dragon Ball.
Bonus play – New Zealand
Ashburton, Tuesday, Dec. 21, Race 8, Robinson Racing/Yong Chew Memorial
- $10 win/$30 show, #7 Seikrid: Won well two starts back and then unlucky in Group 3 company last start. This is much easier.