THE prestigious Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup will excite a nation for the 38th time this Sunday at Sha Tin.
A field of only seven has accepted for the HK$10 million prize, but the field is complete with two-time winner Designs On Rome and superstar gelding Werther.
Bookmakers are siding with Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Only, which was finishing off well in the Stewards’ Cup and promises to show plenty at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Odds for the Hong Kong Gold Cup is available with numerous bookmakers, but Sportsbet.com.au has the best odds available for international racing.
2017 Hong Kong Gold Cup market
What the market suggests
The updated Hong Kong Gold Cup market suggests that $3 chance Werther might need the run to start showing its best.
The New Zealand-bred son of Tavistock is recovering from an injury and is being set for its defense of the Hong Kong Derby. That being said it loves racing over this distance and it finished second in the Hong Kong Classic Mile when second-up last campaign.
When the nominations came out we expected Werther to be well-supported in the betting, but all the money has come for Beauty Only at $2.40 and we’re expecting that price to continue to shorten.
No other runner in the market has attracted support from punters, with back-to-back winner Designs On Rome getting some specking at $7.50 after opening at double-figure odds.
Hong Kong Gold Cup betting guide
1. Beauty Only – $2.40
Trainer: Tony Cruz
Jockey: Zak Purton
The five-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor ran well for fifth in the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup, which suggested it should run well in this.
It’s hard to fault its form prior which included wins in the Group 2 Jockeys Mile and the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile where it defeated the likes of Helene Paragon and Joyful Trinity.
The 2000m is unknown for the Tony Cruz-trained runner and that’s the big concern, but by all accounts it looks a natural middle distance type and the betting support is a telling sign.
“There’s a question-mark about the distance, his better form has been at a mile but I just feel like he’s a more mature horse at the moment,” jockey Zak Purton said
One thing punters will not want to see is a rain-affected track. With cloudy and cold skies covering Hong Kong, Purton is hoping the forecast stays dry.
“It’s not going to be ideal if it rains. He’s better on a firmer track, so we don’t want the rain to come,” Purton said.
Despite the concerns we think Beauty Only is an attractive betting option at +140 with Sportsbet.com.au.
2. Designs On Rome – $7.50
Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Going against the two-time defending champion will be tough for punters looking elsewhere, but don’t sleep on the seven-year-old.
The 10-time winner isn’t in the best form since winning fresh up in the Sha Tin Trophy. It finished last in the Jockey Club Cup before beating only four horses home in both the Hong Kong Cup and Stewards’ Cup.
Australian jockey Tommy Berry returns to the saddle having not ridden Designs On Rome since running fifth in the QEII Cup. Berry was on board when it won this race last year and it always runs best with him in the saddle.
It’s not going to be easy to win three consecutive Gold Cups, but there has been some support at $7.50 and it will likely drop off the tail of the field and make its run around the outside late.
3. Werther – $3
Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Werther is probably the most talented horse in this field and it will run well on Sunday night, but there are some niggling concerns which punters are weary of.
The five-year-old son of Tavistock wasn’t expected to win fresh up in the Stewards’ Cup and its effort for sixth had plenty of merit. It battled on nicely with Sam Clipperton in the saddle and reuniting with fellow Australian jockey Hugh Bowman is a blessing.
Bowman has a great record with Werther, having won the Hong Kong Derby and QEII Cup aboard the bay gelding. It has had some injury concerns and this won’t be an easy race to win second-up, but there looks to have only one main rival (Beauty Only) and it might be able to steal a winning break around the turn.
Expect Bowman to settle Werther at the front of the field before kicking at the top of the straight. If it can establish a big enough break then the rivals could be chasing dust for the prize.
Its grand final will come later this year in the Hong Kong Derby, but that’s not to say it can’t win between now and then.
4. Blazing Speed – $8
Trainer: Tony Cruz
Jockey: Neil Callan
Blazing Speed is a horse which can cause an upset on its day. The son of Dylan Thomas hasn’t fired a shot this campaign and has been at long odds in most of its runs, but there is cause for a potential upset.
The Tony Cruz-trained seven-year-old was good enough to win the Group 1 Chater Cup at Sha Tin last preparation over 2400m and although its best form comes over the longer staying distances, it wasn’t far behind Werther and Military Attack in the QEII Cup.
It finished 2.6 lengths when fifth behind Designs On Rome in this race last year and a repeat effort could see it finish inside the top three.
$8 is a touch short for the win, but consider on a place basis.
5. Secret Weapon – $8
Trainer: C H Yip
Jockey: Nash Rawiller
Secret Weapon is an interesting runner here which has gathered some support in the betting at $8.
The six-year-old son of Choisir attracted no friends when running 11th in the Stewards’ Cup last start, but punters should be prepared to overlook that effort.
It usually improves with a run under its belt and it showed its true class when running second behind champion Maurice in the Hong Kong Cup in December.
That run was an incredible performance and a similar effort would see it winning this. Punters must decide whether it has improved enough since its last run to topple the favourites and we wouldn’t put it past the talented runner.
+700 at Bet365.com is worth taking as a saver.
6. Flame Hero – $51
Trainer: Peter Ho
Jockey: Derek Leung
The odds correctly represent the chances of Flame Hero in Sunday’s feature race.
The seven-year-old son of Savabeel has done its owners proud after selling for only $28,000 in New Zealand, but winning this would be a stretch.
It hasn’t finished inside the top five at its last three starts and even though it finished second behind Secret Weapon in the Jockey Club Cup, it was paying $80 on that occasion and it shouldn’t be figuring in the finish here.
7. Basic Trilogy – $21
Trainer: John Moore
Jockey: Douglas Whyte
Getting respect in the market at $21 because it’s out of the John Moore stables. The five-year-old looks tested at this level after showing very little this campaign and it should be outclassed.
Its best run came in the Group 3 Centenary Vase behind Supreme Profit, but it has yet to face the likes of Werther and Beauty Only and an upset looks like a far-fetched idea.