Killer Bee versus Naboo Attack, Packing Victory taking on exciting debutant Five Elements – there is no doubt that Sunday’s Sha Tin card is the best of the season so far and the cherry on top is the fact star jockeys Joao Moreira and Zac Purton go head-to-head in both of the above contests.
Those clashes are so juicy the Group Three Celebration Cup is almost an afterthought – it looks to be Sky Darci’s for the taking – whereas there is plenty of unknown about the other mouth-watering matchups.
Most won’t have read the name Five Elements before – perfectly understandable given he raced as Stormy in New Zealand before making the trip to Hong Kong – but it’s one that should become more prominent in the weeks and months to come.
When you ask trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen about the most exciting horses in his stable, the first one he mentions is Five Elements.
The three-year-old won two of his three previous starts, breaking his maiden before winning the Group Two Wakeful Challenge Stakes at Trentham in December and finishing second in the Group Two Eclipse Stakes to talented filly Imperatriz.
Since arriving in his new home, he’s impressed all and sundry, catching a few eyes at the barrier trials.
“Five Elements has trialled really well, hopefully he can perform on race day,” Lor said. “He looks like a nice horse.”
Moreira, a four-time champion, has been aboard for all three of those trials and will be there again in Sunday’s Class Three Fu Tai Handicap (1,200m), picking Five Elements over John Size’s debutant Master Delight, whom he also trialled.
The challenge for Five Elements is that he’s coming up against Danny Shum Chap-shing’s potential Classic Series contender Packing Victory, who is looking to extend his unbeaten run to three.
The four-year-old has been dominant in each of his starts and came away to win by two and three-quarter lengths on opening day, but he jumps 10 ratings points and now finds himself in the middle of Class Three.
Purton retains the ride and while he’s got a good opinion of Packing Victory, he’s wary of the newcomer.
“He’s obviously trialled really well and he’s been very noticeable in the mornings,” the Australian said. “I’ve heard some of Joao’s comments – he thinks the horse is a very nice horse, so it’ll be a good race.”
The Class Two Cheung Hong Handicap (1,200m) shapes up as one of the races of 2021-22 with Killer Bee and Naboo Attack clashing for the first time and a host of solid competitors to provide a good measuring stick for the two rising stars.
Fownes’ Killer Bee showed his enormous potential by winning four of his five starts last season (he came second in the other) and his return is eagerly anticipated with the Magic Man set to get the gun run from barrier five.
David Hayes’ giant Naboo Attack is undefeated from two starts in Hong Kong, crushing his rivals in the Class One Chief Executive’s Cup on opening day.
He’s drawn a little more awkwardly in gate nine and will have to give weight to all of his rivals, but he is a horse who looks destined for the top level.
If there is one who could surprise those two, it might be Lor’s Fat Turtle, who drops back to Class Two for the first time since December 2019.
The seven-year-old, who will be ridden by Matthew Poon Ming-fai, was only beaten a length and a quarter in last year’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint and remains capable on his day.