Man On The Spot: Make it Maurice
Man On The Spot previews the four Longines Hong Kong International Races from Sha Tin on Sunday morning.
Maurice and Ryan Moore can win the feature
Last year's winner HIGHLAND REEL (NAP) has fared badly in the draw though he wasn't exactly berthed well a year ago when he had the excellent Flintshire in second, as he did when landing the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita. He's better class than these, none of who would be expected to beat Flintshire, and should overcome his wide position. Big Orange is better drawn and Michael Bell's globetrotter, a quadruple Group 2 winner but still looking for his first victory at the highest level, will be having his first start at the track. He's still expected to get into the frame as Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud winner Silverware disappointed in the Arc when Highland Reel finished runner-up to Found but holds Garlingari and One Foot In Heaven on that Grand Prix run. Helene Happy Star was only fifth behind the selection a year ago while Japan raider Satono Crown was well beaten in the QEII Cup here in April. The latter's compatriot Nuovo Record, runner-up in the Cup a year ago, has fared even worse in the draw and will do well to get into contention but could run on for a place.
Silvestre De Sousa has a plum ride on Peniaphobia, who made all under 'Magic Man' Joao Moreira last year having shot to the inside from his wide berth right from the start. This time Tony Cruz' charge is drawn one and will be very difficult to catch. He hasn't been at his best in recent runs having finished behind Not Listenin'tome, Lucky Bubbles and Amazing Kids but it would be no surprise to see him produce another big run. The latter trio are all very closely matched but Ryan Moore's partner, the brilliant Japan Group 1 winner Big Arthur, has a mountain to climb from stall 13. He can't have been at his best when a long way behind Red Faix at Nakayama in October though the winner has been in impressive form and is slightly better berthed. AEROVELOCITY beat Penophobia a neck in this in 2014 and looks to have been trained for another crack. He's another who is closely matched with the local sprinters, especially Lucky Bubbles, but should be at his absolute peak and gets the nod. Richard Fahey's Growl, runner-up in the Champions Sprint Series before landing a Doncaster Listed contest, has it all to do from stall 12 while the prolific USA-based Pure Sensation has only fared marginally better and has been under a cloud all week.
Able Friend, who won this in 2014, was a short-priced favourite when beaten into third a year ago and has only had one subsequent prep run over 6f. Already a Group 1 winner four times around here, he would have been well supported again but he's drawn widest of all and looks to have too much to do. His stable companion Helene Paragon is now said to be trainer John Moore's pick though his overall form falls short of this level. Japan won this last year through Maurice and have a strong hand this time. Satono Aladdin won a Group 2 at Kyoto in October but has been beaten twice at the highest level in-between, including when fourth behind the shock winner LOGOTYPE at Tokyo in June. The winner had Maurice in second that day and though behind the latter on his latest start the extra quarter-mile proved beyond him so he's handed the vote. Ryan Moore's mount Neorealism had Maurice behind when scoring over 1m2f in August but may be better over that trip and doesn't have the best of draws, a remark that also applies to local hopes Joyful Trinity and Beauty Only, 1-2 over 7f here in October. Silvestre De Sousa's mount Sun Jewellery was less than a length behind the latter and runner-up Romantic Touch over the track and trip last month and with the best of the draw this time can gain revenge on that pair.
Yutaka Take rode a brilliant race on board A Shin Hikari to land this for Japan last year, breaking quickly and grabbing the inside berth at the first bend and making all. His mount reappeared in the Group 1 Prix D'Ispahan at Chantilly in May and won by ten lengths but has disappointed in subsequent starts at Royal Ascot and Tokyo, the latest when a long way behind MAURICE and Staphanos in the Tenno Sho. He's drawn one here and if back to his best would take the world of beating though the selection, last year's Mile winner on the card, looks to be even better over this trip and can overcome his draw in stall eight. Their compatriot Queens Ring gained her first Group 1 victory at Kyoto and looks to be progressing though she has it all to do from her outside berth. Designs On Rome won this in 2014 but couldn't get close a year ago though he finished strongly into fourth. He was behind Secret Weapon in a Group 2 here last month but the latter hasn't proved himself at this exalted level. Anything Andre Fabre saddles at the fixture has to be of interest though Elliptique, a Group 1 winner in Germany, looks to be flying high and stall nine won't help.