A solid lead speed and the ideal draw should prove the recipe for the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Chung Wah Spirit to break through for his first local win in the Hong Kong Lions Cup (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Monday.
Chung Wah Spirit (Nash Rawiller) showed promise in three runs in Australia, winning his second and third starts in good style in Queensland before he was sold off to race here and connections couldn’t be too disappointed with how he has performed so far.
First-up over the Sha Tin 1,200m, he got a long way out of the race from a wide gate but closed well enough behind High Five, then second-up, a better draw saw him sitting a touch closer in running before closing well for a close third to Right Call.
But the winner on that occasion dominated the race from the front at long odds which implies it wasn’t ideal for the run-on horses.
Although both Australian wins were at 1,200m, Chung Wah Spirit is a son of Dash For Cash, a miler, and his style suggests he will want further than 1,200m in time but that strength at the finish will stand him in good stead.
This race doesn’t set up well for anyone to be leading all the way, with fast horses like Mythical Emperor and Thor The Greatest engaged from wide barriers and likely to duel for the lead and quite a few fairly speedy types to at least make them work to get across as well.
It looks a race for the finishers and Chung Wah Spirit fits the bill, sitting midfield or worse on the inside, railing up to get into striking range around the turn then running on strongly in the final 200m as the leaders get tired.
His main danger looks another who will be finding the line in the latter part, Winston’s Lad (Umberto Rispoli), now that connections seem to have change tack and decided that he is a short course sprinter.
Winston’s Lad has won twice at this course but was tried at 1,400m and even the extended Happy Valley mile but, although he raced well enough, he looked disappointing when push came to shove in the final stages and didn’t attack the post.
Back to 1,200m, he has worked to the line better at his last two starts, the latest a second to unbeaten Bravo Watchman with the slow pace completely against him.
The honest Diego Kosta (Neil Callan) is a chance and look for an improved run from the David Hall-trained Colourful Achiever with pace on as he has run quite OK in both local starts without getting circumstances to suit.