Able Friend continues on his return from injury to headline the Hong Kong Mile (Race 7). He was 2015 Hong Kong horse of the year, rated world’s top turf sprinter/miler and 2015 winner of this race. Injury had kept him out of action since third in this race last year before returning against Hong Kong top sprinters last month. He ran a credible 4th on return and hopes are high he can get back close to his best. While it’s a high class field – he is in another class to these, but injury and lack of racing and an outside gate are obvious concerns.
The other Hong Kong contenders come through the Jockey Club Mile where Beauty Only was able to score. He is a consistent galloper who has always been competitive in the top grade and this looks his best chance to break through for a Group 1. Helene Paragon was the unlucky runner in that race – blocked when he was about to make his challenge. He impressed in his first season in Hong Kong with 4 victories between 1400m and 1800m. Had a slow start to this season, before finding form finishing strongly in the Sa Sa Ladie’s Purse before the latest run. Hugh Bowman rides and with more luck think can continue to improve and be in the finish. The other 4 y.o. in the field is Joyful Trinity who produced the best final sectional in the lead up. He can run fast closing splits, still seems to be improving and looks primed to run a good race despite the rise in class. Looks a value bet.
Contentment, Romantic Touch, Sun Jewellery and Giant Treasure are all consistent local performers who have tasted Group 1 success and wouldn’t surprise.
The Japanese again hold a strong hand bringing across three strong competitors. Neorealism and Satono Aladdincome through the Mile Championship, where both were impended in an awkward finish. Satono Aladdin started favourite in that race and couldn’t obtain a run when trying to angle off the rail. He disappointed in the HK Cup last year but reports are he has handled the travel better this time around. Races midfield and would appreciate a strong tempo which looks questionable here. Neorealism lead all the way and held off Maurice to win the Sapporo Kinen before his unlucky third in latest. Expect he’ll either lead or be handy and expecting a favourable tempo. With Ryan Moore steering he has a lot in his favour. A three time Group 1 winner Logotype also has a mile victory over Maurice and will appreciate the drop back to that distance here.
With the doubts on Able friend, this looks an open race and the betting reflects this . The jockey bookings have me leaning toward Neorealism and Helene Paragon.
Tips – 1 . Neorealism 2. Helene Paragon 3. Satono Aladdin