COVID-19 Means No Raiders

Cracking line-up, despite the absence

FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 26 April will bring together the very best of Hong Kong’s elite gallopers in three exciting Gr1 races.

World champion miler Beauty Generation is on track to attempt an incredible third consecutive win in the HK$20 million Gr1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m); the brilliant BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Golden Sixty is set to clash with Hong Kong’s champion stayer Exultant in the HK$25 million Gr1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m); and the crack sprinters Aethero, Hot King Prawn and Voyage Warrior are due to lock horns in the HK$18 million Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

Beauty Generation has hit form at the right time (Pic – HKJC)

The impact on the world of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that no overseas horses will travel to Hong Kong for this year’s FWD Champions Day.

Despite this, a total of 34 talented horses from the strong Hong Kong ranks have been selected to compete in the three races, including 10 individual Gr1 winners and a further 12 horses that have won a G2 race and/or finished second or third at G1 level.

With last year’s winner Beat The Clock sidelined since February, the opportunity arises for the emergence of a challenger to his Champion Sprinter crown.

The pack leaders appear to be Aethero, Hot King Prawn and Voyage Warrior but it would take a massive victory to take the outright title from the horse that won this season’s Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and Gr1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m).

Aethero – can bounce back (Pic – HKJC)

But the Moore stable believes it has the next superstar on the block. Aethero is still a three-year-old and is rated 119 (local rating), just two notches below what the great Silent Witness was rated at the end of his three-year-old campaign. The chestnut enjoyed a hefty weight-for-age allowance to win the Gr2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) in November and was found to be sick after a game third in the Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint a few weeks later. But he missed the break and then over-raced in a disappointing return when eighth in the Gr2 Sprint Cup (1200m) on 5 April.

Voyage Warrior won that race from the front and went a long way to confirming trainer Ricky Yiu’s high regard for him. The four-year-old is maturing and learning with each run and now has a record of five wins from 10 starts.

The Size-trained Hot King Prawn had a profile not dissimilar to Aethero when he was turned over as favourite for the 2018 Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint and was then sidelined following colic surgery. He has returned better than ever this term and has not been out of the placings in six starts, including three at Gr1 level. He kept on for second in the Sprint Cup and retains the profile of a Gr1 winner in waiting.

Also among the 11 selected runners is Thanks Forever, a high-class Gr1-placed sprinter on the up, while Big Time Baby was all set to line up in Dubai for the Gr1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m) on the dirt track until that meeting was called off and is a talented runner on turf too; Mr Stunning and D B Pin are two veteran Gr1 winners always worthy of respect on the world stage.

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