Hong Kong Preview: Spade to Rocket home

January 31st, 2023

Wednesday could finally be the day that Classic winner #4 Rocket Spade gets his first victory in Hong Kong.

Happy Valley Race 6 Selections

  • #4 Rocket Spade
  • #10 Ensured
  • #6 Hava Nageela
  • #3 Comet Splendido

Happy Valley Race 6 Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #4 Rocket Spade
  • $1.30 trifecta: 4, 10 with 4, 6, 10 with 3, 4, 6, 10, 11

Rocket Spade was good enough to win the New Zealand Derby (G1) in 2021, along with two other graded stakes races. On three occasions, he was too good for Jason Belltree, who since his arrival in Hong Kong has won two Group 3 races and placed third in the Hong Kong International Cup (G1) and the Hong Kong Derby under his new name Money Catcher.

Rocket Spade has not hit the same heights. He was understandably aimed at the Hong Kong 4-Year-Old Series but failed to figure in all three legs. In 12 Hong Kong starts to date, he has yet to win.

However, he has made a better start to his five-year-old career. He finished well to take third at Sha Tin Nov. 20, and after a fifth-place finish Dec. 11, he moved to Happy Valley Jan. 11, finishing strongly for second behind Encountered in a Class 3 event over 1,650 meters (about 1 mile, 40 yards).

Rocket Spade steps up to 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) here and if Hugh Bowman can find a clear path, he looks very hard to beat.

#10 Ensured has been prominent in most of his races so far this season, never finishing further back than fifth in four outings. He enjoys this trip and should get a nice run for Silvestre De Sousa from gate six.

#3 Comet Splendido hasn’t run a bad race this season, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue that record here. He was fifth in the same Class 3 race as Rocket Space Jan. 11 after a wide draw, and has shown twice in the past that he stays this trip.

#11 Righteous Doctrine returns to turf following two dirt victories this season, while the most interesting runner is arguably #6 Hava Nageela. A three-time winner in Ireland last year when known as Warren Beach, Hava Nageela has put up three solid runs at Sha Tin. This will be his first trip to Happy Valley, but he does have Zac Purton’s services and can’t be ignored.