Hong Kong Preview: Savvy tip for January Cup

January 4th, 2022

#5 Savvy Nine looks capable of scoring a repeat victory in the January Cup (G3) Jan. 5, the only group race for the season at Happy Valley.

It’s an intriguing renewal of the 1800m (about 1 1/8 miles) contest, which pits three horses that ran in the group one Hong Kong International races last month against horses mainly from Class 2 company under handicap conditions.

Savvy Nine tackled stakes company in the Jockey Club Cup (G2) over 2000m (about 1 1/4 miles) two starts back, finishing sixth in a farcically-run race. But instead of then contesting the International races, he stepped back in class and finished third over 1800m Dec. 8, just ahead of his January Cup rival #6 Zebrowski.

Zebrowski had a much tougher run in that contest, being three wide without cover much of the way. However, he was receiving nine pounds from Savvy Nine that night and they are at level weights in the January Cup on the minimum of 113 pounds, which should play in Savvy Nine’s favour.

JOHNSON: 3 trends to consider when betting Hong Kong racing

Savvy Nine, Zebrowski, and three other contenders are carrying just 113 pounds because of the presence of #1 Ka Ying Star, a group three winner and multiple group one placegetter. He has to concede between nine and 20 pounds to his opponents but has the ability to do so.

Ka Ying Star has twice finished second in group company this season but the biggest question is whether he’s had enough time to recover from his Hong Kong International Cup (G1) exertions Dec. 12, where he was pressured on the lead before fading to 10th place.

The other two runners that ran in the International races are #2 Reliable Team and #4 Butterfield, who were both well-beaten in the Hong Kong International Vase (G1) over 2400m (about 1 1/2 miles). It's questionable if they are sharp enough to come back three furlongs in distance in three weeks and be competitive here.

A better chance may be the 9-year-old veteran #3 Fast Most Furious, who emphasized his continued zest for racing with a victory in Class 2 company on International day. #8 Sunny Star, a three-time winner at Happy Valley, is also worth considering in multiples.


Happy Valley, January 5, Race 4

  • $10 win/$30 show: #5 Savvy Nine.
  • 50c trifecta: 5, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8.


Arawa Park, January 5, Race 7

  • $20 win/$40 show, #9 Gwithian Bay: Looked very good winning at New Plymouth Dec. 22 and should handle step up in class.