THE last major thoroughbred event of 2017 is upon us as the world shifts its focus towards the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin.
There are four group one races to bet upon across a massive ten-race card, and given the calibre of the fields in the quartet of features, we’re in for an absolute treat.
We have gone through the card and selected four bets for the afternoon – our best bet, next-best, the horse we think is in with a show at odds and the best each-way hope of the day.
All odds for the Hong Kong International Races best bets were provided by online bookmaker Ladbrokes, which is offering new punters up to $500 in bonus bets if they are yet to open an account.
Best bet of the HKIR
Mr Stunning in the Hong Kong Sprint
John Size-trained gelding Mr Stunning is without question the best prospect heading into the group one races at Sha Tin this Sunday.
Winning back-to-back group two wins at Sha Tin against a number of rivals it will confront on Sunday, there is a prevailing feeling that the four-year-old just needs to show up with its mind on the job and it will take this race out.
It may not be that simple, but the horse is in career-best form and, at its best, has a class advantage on most of the field at Hong Kong. Mr Stunning should be winning the Hong Kong Sprint comfortably.
Next-best bet of the HKIR
Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Vase
Star Irish galloper Highland Reel is back and looking for redemption in the Hong Kong Vase after last year’s heartbreak.
Aiming to go back-to-back in the group one feature, the Aidan O’Brien runner was pipped at the post by Satono Crown in the 2016 edition of this race, but after a brilliant 2017 campaign which has seen the horse record two group one wins in England, followed by a pair of third placings Group One races the Champion Stakes and the Breeders’ Club Turf, the six-year-old looks to be cherry-ripe for yet another feature race.
Highland Reel is in great form and more importantly has been there and done that at Sha Tin. We believe the Irish invader will become just the third horse in Hong Kong Vase history to win the race more than once.
Not Without A Chance at the HKIR
Contentment in the Hong Kong Mile
Champions Mile winner Contentment has been overlooked in the market due to its poor Japan form, but if jockey Brett Prebble is to be trusted, the horse did not enjoy its trip to the land of the rising sun.
The ex-Aussie jockey described the horse as “jaded” following a disappointing Japanese campaign, but the star hoop said Contentment “felt like he was a happy horse again” when he took the galloper to the track earlier this week.
The horse has a group one win on the board in the country, has the master-trainer John Size preparing it and Brett Prebble has given it the tick of approval. We are expecting a big run and we think Contentment is the best chance at odds across the entire Hong Kong International Races card.
Contentment is $13 at Ladbrokes to win the Hong Kong Mile
Best Each-Way bet of the HKIR
Stormy Liberal in the Hong Kong Sprint
A star runner in America, Stormy Liberal makes its debut at Sha Tin in the Hong Kong Sprint with serious doubts surrounding its chances.
The winner of the Group One Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at the beginning of November, there is no questioning the horse’s winning pedigree, but stars of the past have been undone by the right-hand nature of the Hong Kong Track.
Stormy Liberal will also have to overcome history after no Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner in history has finished better than fifth in the Hong Kong Sprint.
By all reports the horse handled the clockwise track perfectly fine at trackwork, and if it runs up to standard in the Sprint there is no reason why it cannot take the race out at a very enticing price.