Early shoppers waste stakes on Armada

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong's faithful army of early shoppers are an estimated $250,000 out of pocket this morning, having bet blindly on likely early favourite Armada in race seven at Sha Tin this afternoon.

Veterinary surgeons ruled out Armada before betting began at 11am yesterday but some punters have apparently blazed away on the unbeaten John Size-trained galloper, blissfully unaware that he'll be at home in his box when the race is decided.

Number three in the seventh event will now be China Sportsfield, an Argentinian purchase of no apparent talent and who will continue his tumble through the grades at a rapid rate. China Sportsfield, who has not finished closer than five lengths from the winner in five local starts, will be ridden by Vincent Sit Shin-king.

At 6pm last night, with $1 million having already been bet across all pools on this race, China Sportsfield was a $28 favourite. On the quinella grid, the 2-3 combination of China Sportsfield and Jiang Jun (number two, pictured) was $37 favourite.

Scratchings for Hong Kong races are posted at 11am (local time) on the day before the race meeting and betting then begins. Emergency runners who get a run at this time assume the saddlecloth number and barrier of the horse they replace. Those emergencies who do not gain a start at this time become scratchings.

Unfortunately, punters who have backed China Sportsfield in error, believing him to be Armada, have done their money cold, and the race seven pools have been collectively inflated by $250,000 that reflects a very wrong opinion.