Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: International Racing: FWD Champions Day

International Racing: FWD Champions Day

Beauty & A Feast!

We are in for another mouthwatering feast of racing this weekend when the FWD Champions Day hosts three Gr1 races at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.

The HK$25 million FWD QEII Cup run over 2000m, the HK$20 million FWD Champions Mile, and the HK$18 million Chairman’s Sprint Prize over 1200m, make up a top-notch triple-header of track action loaded with extraordinary talent and ability.

While it has always held a special attraction, Hong Kong horse racing has become the personification of power-packed racing entertainment for local fans starved of our passion product, due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on our own shores.

After President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inspiring speech on Thursday evening, where he announced a phased-in approach to the easing of the current restrictions from 1 May, we are hopefully nearing a bright new post-lockdown dawn for South African racing.

But in the meanwhile, we will soak up and relish the Hong Kong action – and the plentiful other venues, from Europe, the USA and Australia.

While Hollywoodbets Racing Ambassador Anthony Delpech, who made South Africa proud when winning the Gr1 QEII Cup fifteen years ago on VENGEANCE OF RAIN will be providing his valued input on the Hollywoodbets Sports Blog for Sha Tin, it’s worth observing that the stage is set for fireworks.

Click here to watch the Gr1 Champions Mile Preview.

Hong Kong’s iron horse BEAUTY GENERATION and title-chasing star jockey Zac Purton will team up for the 25th time on Sunday in the HK$20 million Gr1 FWD Champions Mile.

Click here to watch the 2019 Gr1 Champions Mile replay.

On Wednesday at Happy Valley, Purton moved to within one winner of Joao Moreira in the jockey title chase and that duel provides a fascinating sub-plot to a big day.

His association with BEAUTY GENERATION has delivered fifteen victories – seven Gr1’s – including the past two renewals of the Champions Mile.

Trainer John Moore is expecting a major performance from the power pair and with horse and rider on song, history looks set to be written.

The seven-year-old's major stumbling blocks lie in the shape of GOLDEN SIXTY, WAIKUKU (Moreira’s mount!) and BEAT THE CLOCK.

While EXULTANT is clearly the horse to beat in the HK$25 million Gr1 FWD QEII Cup, Tony Millard is hoping that his duo of GLORIOUS DRAGON and ELUSIVE STATE can challenge the best. The dual J&B Met winning trainer saddled AMBITIOUS DRAGON to win this race on one of his yard’s most memorable days in 2011.

Click here to watch the Gr1 QEII Cup Preview.

The difference nine years later is that GLORIOUS DRAGON and ELUSIVE STATE are stepping up in class, while AMBITIOUS DRAGON came in off a brilliant Derby success.

Questions will be answered when Derby near-giantkiller PLAYA DEL PUENTE lines up to show his talent against the best in the FWD QEII Cup. Trainer Danny Shum and jockey Blake Shinn are looking for a decent pace to facilitate what would be a memorable win.

Click here to watch the 2019 Gr1 QEII Cup replay.

Vincent Ho and Trainer Ricky Yiu are another combination that have major aspirations on the big day.

Their rising star VOYAGE WARRIOR stunned the big guns with a front-running dazzler in the Gr2 Sprint Cup recently and a follow-up performance in the HK$18 million Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize will make their season.

But, they have to get past Joao Moreira and the super consistent HOT KING PRAWN.

Click here to watch the Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize Preview.

History shows that a total of nineteen five-year-olds have won the Chairman’s Sprint Prize since 1979 and HOT KING PRAWN fits the mould, like BEAT THE CLOCK last year, LUCKY BUBBLES (2017) before that, and CHAUTAUQUA (2016).

Click here to watch the 2019 Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize replay.

HOT KING PRAWN has raced 17 times for 16 top three finishes, including 10 wins. This season he has placed three times at G1 level and has the opportunity to cap a return from colic surgery 14 months ago with victory in the HK$18 million sprint. He jumps from the 1 draw and will have his supporters with Joao Moreira in the saddle.

Racing in Australia commemorates a special weekend of remembrance. ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day on Saturday is a significant day for Australia - a tradition that started after World War I.

At the Anzac day meeting at Flemington, the VRC Ledger Stakes is a race older than the Melbourne Cup and although at Listed class, it is held in high regard by traditionalists.

Trainer Gai Waterhouse will be trying to win her fifth, with favourite SACRAMENTO. The three-year-old took a low-key route into the Derby, where he was up with the gallop for a long way, before staying on for fifth. That suggests he could step up against lesser opposition on Saturday.

On the same card, Australia’s best stayer, Melbourne Cup winner VOW AND DECLARE will contest a non-pattern race in a hastily revised campaign muddled by the coronavirus protocols, on track to his double bid in the Cup later this year.

He carries a 61kg top weight here over the 2600m but is clearly much better than his Queen Elizabeth Stakes effort over the slightly short trip of 2000m last time. He concedes only 5kg to most of his opposition, but class can rule the day!

We hope that you are all staying safe and making the most of the challenging times.

We are always only a click away!

Enjoy the great racing and chat on Monday.

Till next time.

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