2020 Hong Kong Derby Preview & Free Picks

Horse Betting Online

HKJC Press Release - DECLAN SCHUSTER & DAVID MORGAN| OTB Writer
Updated: April 10, 2020

SHA TIN FREE PICKS - March 21 (DAVID MORGAN)

Race 1: #4 Evan Almighty, #5 Sky Show, #12 Breeze Of Spring, #2 Harrier Jet

Race 2:: #11 Party Everyday, #10 Menaggio, #7 Full Power, #4 Sunny Power

Race 3: #4 Good Luck Friend, #5 Sweetly Baby, #8 Spicy Grill, #3 Galactic

Race 4: #14 Courageous Dragon, #5 Hinyuen Swiftness, #10 Tung Wah Glory, #1 Triple Triple

Race 5: #5 Hall Of Champ, #6 Baltic Success, #8 Glenealy Generals, #9 Happy Alumni

Race 6: #2 Enrichment, #11 More Than A Horse, #5 Winning Delight, #7 Tashidelek

Race 7: #11 Eternal Harvest, #5 Wellington, #2 Victoriam, #4 Namjong Sings

Race 8: #3 More Than This, #1 Golden Sixty, #8 Super Oasis, #5 Private Secretary

Race 9: #4 Guy Dragon, #11 Great Treasure, #1 General's Delight, #5 Precise Express

Race 10: #2 Morethanlucky, #12 Circuit Three, #4 Happy Fun, #10 Seattle Choice

Race 1: Fay Fay Handicap

#4 Evan Almighty grabbed fourth on debut. He raced a touch greenly that day but with further improvement he can go on with things here. Although he has drawn a touch awkwardly he profiles as the one to beat.

#5 Sky Show steps out on debut following an impressive trial. Zac Purton takes the reins and he commands respect first-up.

#12 Breeze Of Spring has gone close on a number of occasions this term. Still, he's racing well and has proven his worth in Class 4.

#2 Harrier Jet is next best with race-experience on his side.

Race 2: Helene Mascot Handicap

#11 Party Everyday appears suited by the mile, which he remains at. He has mixed his form but with a race run to suit he can get off the mark, especially against this bunch.

#10 Menaggio has steadily improved with each outing. He stepped up to the mile last start which he clearly enjoyed and with further improvement off that performance, he can figure.

#7 Full Of Power appears to be down to a competitive mark now. He won't be too far away.

#4 Sunny Power steps out for the in-form Francis Lui and Vincent Ho. He won well two starts ago and rates as a chance with a course and distance win under his belt.

Race 3: Super Satin Handicap

#4 Good Luck Friend ran a blinder on debut to finish fourth. It's no surprise now to see Zac Purton on and he rates as the leading player, especially from the good gate.

#5 Sweetly Baby wasn't too far away on debut. He's lightly raced and if he can overcome the awkward draw, he's the main danger.

#8 Spicy Grill is lightly raced and although he hasn't shown a great deal, he's still battling gamely and with a bit more fight, he can feature in the finish.

#3 Galactic has trialed impressively and is expected to go close on debut, especially with Joao Moreira up.

Race 4: Ping Hai Star Handicap

#14 Courageous Dragon is winless and although this is the case, he has shown marked improvement with each run this campaign and with only 118 lbs on his back, he gets a nice pull in the weight on those rated up to the top.

#5 Hinyuen Swiftness narrowly missed last start by a neck over this course and distance. Victor Wong's five pound claim helps and it wouldn't shock to see him go one better here.

#10 Tung Wah Glory nearly should have won last start. Still, he's only getting better with every start and this race appears well within his grasp, especially as Zac Purton now takes over.

#1 Triple Triple sits at the top oc Class 4. Suspect he still has a few more ratings points in hand.

Race 5: Designs On Rome Handicap

#5 Hall Of Champ is lightly raced and he could be ready piece it all together based on his latest trial. This isn't an overly strong contest and he's going to get his chance among these.

#6 Baltic Success narrowly missed last start. He can atone for that run here if he puts his best foot forward.

#8 Glenealy Generals mixes his form but will relish the step back to 1200m here. He'll be competitive.

#9 Happy Alumni won well two starts ago. He has the form on the board to grab some prize money.

Race 6: Akeed Mofeed Handicap

#2 Enrichment turned his form around to grab second last start. He's well-weighted here and getting out to 2000m could now be exactly what he needs after that performance.

#11 More Than A Horse rattled home for second over 2200m last start. He can figure stepping back to 2000m, especially with that fitness under his belt and the booking of Joao Moreira against a relatively strong field.

#5 Winning Delight won well two starts ago. He struggled up in grade last time but a return to this level should spark sharp improvement.

#7 Tashidelek has placed in his last three outings. He has drawn a touch awkward but he has race experience on his side and this is suitable.

Race 7: Luger Handicap

#11 Eternal Harvest gets in light with only 115 lbs on his back. He faces a stiff rise in grade but he appears to have a number of ratings points in hand still. He can roll forward for Chad Schofield and prove difficult to reel in from there.

#5 Wellington is looking for his third unbeaten win. He profiles as an exciting talent and if he can overcome the awkward gate he's going to be in the finish.

#2 Victoriam is an exciting talent but he mixes his form a bit too much. Still, his best is up to this and he's capable of producing it against a relatively inexperienced field.

#4 Namjong Sings is next best.

Race 8: BMW Hong Kong Derby 2020

#3 More Than This has yearned for a rise in distance since he first stepped foot in Hong Kong and now out getting out to 2000m, could see him pick up where he left off before the Four-Year-Old Classic Series commenced two starts ago. He won four on the trot before then and now although this is tougher, he gets that added furlong which could see him turn the tables on #1 Golden Sixty.

#1 That horse, is looking to become the second horse in Hong Kong history to sweep the Four-Year-Old Classic Series since Rapper Dragon completed the feat in 2017. He's a serious talent and although he profiles as the best chance, there are distance queries which could see his stablemate exploit.

#8 Super Oasis is a dual New Zealand Group 2 winner. There are no distance queries surrounding this horse as he's placed at Group 1 level over 2400m in Australia though, he has looked a touched one-paced since his arrival to Hong Kong.

#5 Private Secretary cannot be discounted although his latest two appearances have been relatively poor. His best is up to this, especially his British form and if he manages to recapture it, he's going to go very close.

Race 9: Collection Handicap

#4 Guy Dragon is looking to end a string of two runner-up efforts. This is a more than suitable race for him and although he has narrowly missed by a neck in each of his last two outings, he only has to replicate either of those to be a winning chance.

#11 Great Treasure gets in light. He's a winner already this term and if he gets a race run to suit, he has a chance to finish over the top of them.

#1 General's Delight struggled on debut after trialing impressively. He has since been back to the trials and if he can bring that form to the races, he'll go close.

#5 Precise Express warrants respect now with Zac Purton up after a fairly mediocre debut. He's open to improvement though.

Race 10: Rapper Dragon Handicap

#2 Morethanlucky isn't the worst blow-out chance in the finale on his best form and although he appeared to struggle last start, he did do a stack of work early to get on the pace and with a quieter run this time, he can turn that form around.

#12 Circuit Three is looking for his fourth win in a row. Chad Schofield has this galloper going in really good form and he appears capable of taking another step forward here.

#4 Happy Fun has placed in his last two. Zac Purton takes the reins and the inside gate should afford him every opportunity.

#10 Seattle Choice demolished his rival's last start. He rates as a leading player again in what is, a rather strong contest.

2020 Hong Kong Derby Odds & Entries

Race 8 at Sha Tin on Saturday, March 21 - Post 4:35 AM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
9 Golden Sixty 3-1 Vincent Ho
126 Lbs
K W Lui
8 Champion`s Way 6-1 Joao Moreira
126 Lbs
John Size
1 More Than This 4-1 Zac Purton
126 Lbs
K W Lui
14 Decrypt 10-1 Chad Schofield
126 Lbs
Frankie Lor
13 Private Secretary 80-1 Matthew Poon
126 Lbs
A S Cruz
11 Playa Del Puente 80-1 Blake Shinn
126 Lbs
C S Shum
3 Columbus County 17-2 Neil Callan
126 Lbs
Caspar Fownes
4 Super Oasis 12-1 V Borges
126 Lbs
Frankie Lor
12 Butterfield 12-1 Grant Van Niekerk
126 Lbs
C S Shum
10 Star Performance 66-1 Matthew Chadwick
126 Lbs
A S Cruz
2 Amazing Beats 40-1 Karis Teetan
126 Lbs
Paul O`Sullivan
5 Reliable Team 66-1 Derek Leung
126 Lbs
Frankie Lor
7 Savvy Nine 66-1 Keith Yeung
126 Lbs
John Moore
6 World Famous 66-1 Alex Lai
126 Lbs
P Yiu

Lui has Golden Sixty and More Than This ready for BMW Hong Kong Derby reckoning

DAVID MORGAN - Francis Lui has the strongest hand of any trainer heading into Saturday night's HK$20 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) but that doesn't mean he's counting his chickens yet.

The handler has the top-rated and seemingly brilliant Golden Sixty, successful in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), aiming to complete a rare clean-sweep of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, alongside More Than This, runner-up and third in the aforementioned contests.

"I can't compare - they're both good - I just hope I can win the Derby this year, but I do think John Size's horse Champion's Way is a danger," he said.

Champion's Way - the top-rated three-year-old in Hong Kong last season - certainly appears to be the chief threat to his talented pair, but the manner of Golden Sixty's lead-up wins, compiling an impressive six-race winning streak, pegs him as the clear standout so far in this year's four-year-old crop.

And, in More Than This, Lui has a solid second string to his bow, a horse that has long been widely-viewed as being ready-made for the 2000m of the Sha Tin Derby.

The two gallopers might share the same stable space but they are different in type. Golden Sixty is a neat, athletic Australian-bred with rich North American and European roots, a dark shade of gleaming brown, a live-wire but a silky traveller with a sit-and-wait sprint; the British-bred More Than This is a 1200lb bay, lazy from the gates, unrhythmic in the run, but with a raking acceleration to the line.

A Golden gift

Lui purchased Golden Sixty for NZ$300,000 out of the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale in 2017 and had him prepped by trainer Graham Richardson before shipping him to Hong Kong unraced.

"With a young horse you expect at least they can win a race, but this horse I think is a gift," Lui said of the Stanley Chan-owned Medaglia d'Oro gelding.

"I liked him, his gallop and breeze-up was impressive, a friend of mine also gave me his opinion. So, actually, I bought him and then I left it to one of my agents, Willie Leung, normally he looks after my horses so then I don't have to worry."

Golden Sixty was educated through three barrier trials in New Zealand before he relocated to Sha Tin and the rest is history in the making.

"I hope we can win the big race and I hope next season he can carry on and continue to run, even at the Hong Kong International Races maybe," Lui said.

If Golden Sixty does win, he will become the second horse, after Rapper Dragon (2017), to win all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series. He would also give Lui, 61, and jockey Vincent Ho, 29, a first Derby win each.

Ho is aiming to become the first Hong Kong Jockey Club Apprentice Jockeys' School graduate to win the race since Tony Cruz in 1995.

"I'm always confident in this horse's ability," Ho said. "We just need some luck and I just need to make sure we get the right run and then press the button at the right time. He's got a good turn-of-foot."

Golden Sixty's impressive dash over 1400m and a mile earlier this term gave connections and observers cause for concern that the Derby distance would be a stretch too far, but his impressive 1800m score last time hinted that an extra 200m could be within his scope.

"He won at 1800 metres and it's very likely he'll run the 2000 metres. We're going to the 2000 so I don't have the concern, I don't think about that," Ho said.

More to give

More Than This won three from three as a juvenile in Britain for trainer Richard Fahey before owner Huang Kai Wen opened his cheque book and sent him to Lui's yard. In contrast to Golden Sixty, the handler did not peg him immediately as a potential high-grader.

"The owner bought him privately and normally his horsesqualify by themselves, so he came to me as a two-year-old and I can't say I expected much, but the owner told me that he was a good horse," Lui said.

More Than This showed little in his first three runs towards the end of last season but things clicked in July and he ended that term with a smart win over 1400m. That turned into a streak, with a hattrick of 1600m wins early in this campaign before his two placed efforts behind Golden Sixty.

"I just worked him and he turned out pretty good, we had to geld him after one run because he wasn't concentrating in trackwork," Lui said.

Derby jockey Zac Purton did a fair bit of the work on More Than This when he first arrived but did not get aboard on race day until the Classic Cup.

Lui revealed that it was Purton who suggested he have More Than This gelded early on, and Purton's recent input means that on Sunday the contender will have a new piece of gear fitted to "sharpen him up again" for the big day.

"I hope (the cheekpieces) help him travel through the race," Purton said. "He just seems to drop the bit and lose focus. He can't maintain his rhythm, so if we can keep him more interested then help him through the race a little bit more, hopefully that means we can get a little bit more out of him at the end and that's what we're after."

Purton is seeking a second Derby win to complement his victory on Luger back in 2015. He is hoping gate one will be ideal for his mount to deliver success even though no horse has won the race from that draw since the race distance changed from 1800m to 2000m 20 years ago.

"In the first two legs of the four-year-old series he drew wide gates and although they've been small fields, he's had to go back. With this good draw, hopefully he can be a little bit closer and not have so much work to do," Purton explained.

The way More Than This races suggests he is a stayer in the making but there is enough in his pedigree to raise a question mark, including the fact that his sire, the sprinter-miler Dutch Art, was arguably best at 1200m and has produced only a handful of runners capable of smart form at beyond a mile.

"There are always stamina doubts but I think there are over every runner in this race, to a certain degree," Purton said. "Some of those lower-rated horses have a run at the distance but the horses with the most quality are untried over the trip and until they run over it you can never be confident they'll run it. He gives the impression he's going to so let's hope that's the case.

"We just need a little bit of luck now," he added.

A field of 14 is set to go to post for the BMW Hong Kong Derby. The race also features Columbus County, Butterfield, Super Oasis, Private Secretary, Amazing Beats, Playa Del Puente, Savvy Nine, World Famous, Reliable Team, Star Performance and Decrypt.

Pre-Draw News

Champion's Way looking to become the Australian's 4th winner of the Hong Kong Derby

DECLAN SCHUSTER - John Size knows what it takes to win the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and this Sunday (22 March) Champion's Way is looking to become the Australian's fourth winner of the HK$20 million feature.

The Hinchinbrook gelding is aiming to join Fay Fay (2012), Luger (2015) and Ping Hai Star (2018) as victors trained by Size and after drawing gate eight at this morning's (19 March) barrier draw at Sha Tin, the 11-time champion trainer was satisfied.

"I think the draw is ok for him and his racing style - to go forward a little - and I think there are four or five horses in there that'll show decent speed, so hopefully he'll be able to position himself midfield," Size said.

Immediately outside of him in gate nine is the top-rated Golden Sixty, who is looking to become the second horse to sweep the Four-Year-Old Classic Series since Rapper Dragon (2017) following his wins in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

Champion's Way held onto second last start behind Golden Sixty over 1800m. The four-year-old hit the front at the 250m mark, only to be worn down by the winner, but now both gallopers face the unknown prospect of seeing out 2000m.

"I think he was run down by a better horse on the day. I mean, obviously the 1800 metres looked to be as far as he wants to go but Golden Sixty being a champion at present has the ability to sprint quickly and put them away fast - I think he showed his authority to win that day," Size said.

Champion's Way began his career last season on a rating of 52 as an unraced PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin). He won his first five races before tasting defeat and closed out last term with a G3 score in the Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m).

"There's a query him running the 2000 (metres) but he has got a nice rolling action and even though he's a Hinchinbrook, he's probably going to race well and acquit himself well and if he has a bit of luck he just might get the trip," Size said. "It's always nice to think that's going to happen and he hasn't been stressed much since he acquired that high figure."

This term though, the gelding is yet to win, and now races off a career-high mark of 108, the second-highest in the race behind Golden Sixty, who ranks at 112.

"I think he's coming along nicely - his two runs against the four-year-old's have been adequate and I think he's right in this race," Size said.

As for Francis Lui's duo, Golden Sixty has gate nine and More Than This stall one, the latter pairs with three-time champion jockey Zac Purton. The Australian was pleased with drawing the inner rail-side position against the field of 14.

"I'm very happy with that. In the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series he's broken from the widest gate and although they've been small fields he's had to go back but from this good draw, hopefully we can be a little bit closer and not have so much work to do," Purton said.

Purton will be looking to secure his second Hong Kong Derby following his win aboard Luger in 2015, while a win on Sunday for Lui will be his first in the historic feature.

"It doesn't look like there is going to be too much pace in the race - so I thought barriers were going to be important and now we're halfway there, so we just need a little bit of luck now," Purton said.

The Caspar Fownes-trained Columbus County will break from gate three, while Brazilian G1 winner Butterfield was drawn in gate 12.

Sunday's (22 March) 10-race program commences at 1.00pm with the Class 4 Fay Fay Handicap (1200m), while the HK$20 million BMW Hong Kong Derby will run as race 8 at 4.35pm.

Moore relies on Savvy for `final' BMW Hong Kong Derby

DAVID MORGAN - Savvy Nine was not John Moore's idea of what his final BMW Hong Kong Derby runner would look like but the trainer is hopeful that his useful European import will outrun his rating and "pick up a cheque" in Sunday's (22 March) HK$20 million feature.

"He's in there and he's done everything right leading into the race but I just feel this might be a bit strong for him. He's going to struggle to match strides with Golden Sixty, More Than This and Champion's Way, so I'm just hoping he can pull a bit of prize money for the owner," the trainer said.

Moore turned 70 on Tuesday (17 March) and is slated to retire at the end of the season under the Hong Kong Jockey Club's age-connected compulsory retirement requirement. This Derby could be the last with a runner trained under his name.

The man with six Hong Kong Derby wins on his record - more than any other trainer - had hoped for one final big hurrah and had pinned his dreams on the talented Australian import Enjoying, only for that burgeoning plan to derail last weekend.

"I thought I had a good chance with Enjoying because he really needs 2000 metres and more, and the way he finished off to finish fourth with Hugh Bowman in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) the other day gave me a good feeling. I thought he would have had a chance in the Derby over that extra ground," Moore said.

But Enjoying suffered a heart irregularity during a morning gallop last Friday (13 March) and his Derby campaign was over.

"It's disappointing and it has some effect on me and the stable staff - it's a bit of a heart-wrenching outcome for us," Moore admitted. "We'd primed Enjoying and had him in the right frame of mind; he was in top form and we'd got to know how to ride him here. Everything was going to plan and then we had that hiccup.

"He needs rest, so he'll be let down at Conghua, put into a paddock for a few weeks and then we'll see how he is and what his future will be."

That misfortune left the 83-rated Savvy Nine as Moore's sole contender to follow in the footsteps of his past Derby winners Makarpura Star (1995), Viva Pataca (2006), Collection (2009), Designs On Rome (2014), Werther (2016) and Rapper Dragon (2017).

"I've won a few and just about every time we've had a Derby favourite in recent years, we were able to pull it off," the handler said.

"The Derby is what all the local owners want to win, when they give me what might be a pretty big budget, they always ask me to try and buy them a Derby horse - this is our blue riband. It's a big event on the Hong Kong calendar."

It's the race the jockeys want to win, too, especially the Hong Kong-born riders who have come through the Hong Kong Jockey Club Apprentice Jockeys' School. And, with travel restrictions grounding big name would-be fly-ins, places have opened up for some otherwise overlooked yet capable jockeys to get a chance at the big one.

"Tommy Berry couldn't make the trip from Australia so Keith Yeung's riding Savvy Nine - he hurt his back in a barrier trial yesterday but I understand he's fine," Moore said.

Yeung confirmed that he is fit to ride and is looking forward to his second Derby participation, six years after his first.

"I've been seeing a physio and everything seems fine - it's an old back injury. I ride at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 18 March) and I'll keep doing physio until Sunday so it should be good," the former champion apprentice said.

"It feels like a long time ago that I rode in the Derby, on Bullish Boy for Tony Cruz, so I was excited to get the call this time. It's always a pleasure to be riding in a big race like this, it doesn't matter what chance the horse has, it's great to have the chance to participate in the race and then you go out there and do your best."

The BMW Hong Kong Derby is the third and final leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series. Golden Sixty won the first two legs, the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), and will bid to match Rapper Dragon who in 2017 became the first and to date only horse to win all three legs.

Columbus leads the Kiwis in this year's BMW Hong Kong Derby quest

DAVID MORGAN - It's 10 years since Caspar Fownes beamed in the afterglow of Super Satin's moment of BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) glory and on Sunday (22 March) the handler will look to another talented Kiwi to end his decade-long wait for a follow-up.

Columbus County will attempt to follow the lead of his Fownes-trained predecessor and enhance the remarkable record of New Zealand-bred gallopers in Hong Kong's HK$20 million blue riband.

Nine horses born in the `land of the long white cloud' have captured the Derby this century - make that six of the last 10 and three of the last four - including two of the all-time greats, Vengeance Of Rain (2005) and Ambitious Dragon (2011). That makes New Zealand the number one producer of BMW Hong Kong Derby winners since 2000, with British and Irish bred gallopers taking four wins apiece and Australia having produced three winners.

"You're always a chance with a quality New Zealand-bred horse," Fownes said. "They produce so many great stayers, they've had so many that have won big races in Australia over the years, and also in Hong Kong.

"They're tough horses and just look at how many good horses have come to Hong Kong from there over the years - Able One, Ambitious Dragon, Beauty Generation."

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Fownes is hoping the Kiwi trend will help tip the scales his way when his progressive bay steps out against the brilliant Golden Sixty and 12 others in the final leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

"Columbus County is still raw, he has potential once he starts to fill his brain, but we can't knock him for what he's done. He's been a bit unlucky in his races, he should have had his win but that's racing - he's got to the Derby and so he's given himself a chance," he said.

Comparison is the thief of joy, or so the saying goes, but it also happens to rest at the core of any sport; and while Super Satin's pre-Derby rating of 106 is lower than the 109 pre-race average of winning horses going back to 1995, Columbus County's mark of 91 would make him the equal lowest-rated winner in the same period - the same mark as Che Sara Sara back in 1996, a time before Hong Kong's `handover', when even the ratings landscape was a tad different.

But even the added fact that no horse rated lower than 100 has won the Derby since Keen Winner in 2000 is not dampening Fownes' hope.

"He's had a nice lead-up with four runs, he's acquitted himself well each time and, for me, he's the horse that's on the fourth or fifth line if we're being realistic; but, in saying that, I think he's a horse well capable of getting a rating into triple figures," the handler said.

The Redwood gelding has shown plenty of promise, placing second in his last three runs, having proved his innate quality back in his homeland. In only three New Zealand runs for trainer Lauren Brennan, he bagged a mile maiden and was third in the G2 Waikato Guineas over the Derby distance.

"He's lightly-raced," Fownes continued, "he only had the three runs in New Zealand and we saw he had potential, so we bought him. They come here and it's tough because they're rated low-80s and they have to keep building. He's earned his Derby spot and that's nice for the owner, so hopefully he'll acquit himself well."

Super for the Kiwis

Columbus County is not the lone Kiwi in the field: Super Oasis and stablemate Reliable Team, and Star Performance all come with a NZ suffix.

Of that mixed quartet, Super Oasis arrived at Frankie Lor's stable with a solid Derby resumé - wins in the G2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) and G2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) on home soil, plus third in the G1 Australian Derby (2400m). But he too will need to lift off a rating of 91 after five Hong Kong runs without success.

"This season Francis (Lui) has the two good horses, Golden Sixty and More Than This, and they will be hard to beat but I still need to prepare my horses for the race and I hope they can run well," said Lor, whose maiden Derby win came last year with the New Zealand-bred Furore.

"New Zealand has some very good horses, I think usually they say Australia should be a bit better than New Zealand but you can see maybe it's changed a bit, the New Zealand horses are coming up here and they love the distances."

Trainer Paul O'Sullivan is the resident New Zealander on the Sha Tin block and he nicked his BMW Hong Kong Derby win with the Kiwi-bred Vital King back in 2007. Besides those already mentioned, the full roll of New Zealand-born Derby winners since 2000 also features last year's winner Furore, Ping Hai Star (2018), Werther (2016), Fay Fay (2012) and Lucky Owners (2004). It's an impressive list.

"They do well at that sort of distance - if the Derby was run over 1200 metres we wouldn't be winning any that's for sure!" quipped O'Sullivan, who also trained Hong Kong's New Zealand-bred champion sprinter Aerovelocity.

"It's satisfying to see, for the home (New Zealand) bred horses, they're cheaper than the English counterparts. English horses, if you get the right one, they're very good but I think New Zealand horses probably adapt better and they're more likely to adapt to the conditions here - hard tracks and that sort of thing - but they represent better value for sure."

This time, though, the handler will rely on an Australian-bred import, Amazing Beats, winner of the Listed Tasmanian Derby and placed in three G2 contests, but only 15th in the G1 Australian Derby.

The Epaulette gelding mugged Columbus County to win a 2000m Class 2 handicap last time, with Super Oasis a close fourth.

"Amazing Beats will keep grinding away, I don't know if he'll pick himself up and sprint like Vital King could for me but he's a stayer, he's well and if there is a chink in the armour of a few of them then well he can get some prize money and that'd be great," O'Sullivan said.

"Vital King was a pretty smart horse but he used to bleed and that really limited him in the finish, but he had a good turn-of-foot, he could really pick himself up and sprint."

A major Derby win anywhere is a glorious thing, a difficult feat to achieve, and while the Australian-bred Golden Sixty heads into this year's race in a clear pole position, the record book shows that you can't ever discount a Kiwi in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Golden Sixty and More Than This please connections ahead of BMW Hong Kong Derby

DAVID MORGAN - Francis Lui was satisfied with Golden Sixty and More Than This after his two leading BMW Hong Kong Derby contenders worked at Sha Tin Racecourse on Tuesday (17 March) morning.

Golden Sixty heads into Sunday's (22 March) final leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series with the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) trophies already secured. More Than This was second in the former and third in the latter and will seek revenge on his stablemate when they both attempt 2000m for the first time in the HK$20 million feature.

"Both jockeys were happy with how the horses galloped this morning," Lui said. "It's the same as usual this week, it'll be normal work and the two horses have good form. They're ready so now it all depends on Thursday's draw, we need a bit of luck."

Vincent Ho worked Golden Sixty through 1200m on the turf in company with Class 2 galloper Star Shine and clocked 1m 20.7s (27.9, 27.4, 25.4).

"Golden Sixty felt normal, quite relaxed, I'm happy with him," Ho said. "Fingers crossed he can see out the 2000 (metres) this Sunday, we'll see, we just don't know yet.

"He can be quite tricky at times, he can be quite keen and it depends on the day, he can wind up really easily but in general he's normal."

More Than This worked under his big-race pilot Zac Purton but without the cheek-pieces he had sported in his previous two gallops. The Irish-bred galloped in company with the 74-rated Victoriam and worked through in 1m 21.3s (28.2, 28.9, 24.2).

"He went nicely this morning, just the 1200 (metres) - we were only planning to go for 800 (metres) but the work rider in front of me took off and went a bit solid," Purton said.

"He's just ticking over though; he's a very casual horse in the mornings, he just goes through the motions but he's fit; he's had a lot of racing he doesn't need to be doing anything flash in the mornings."

Lui and Ho are seeking a first BMW Hong Kong Derby success, while Purton won the race in 2015 aboard Luger. Golden Sixty will attempt to become only the second horse to win all three legs of the Classic Series, following Rapper Dragon who achieved the feat in 2017.

OTB Cash Rewards

OTB Cash Rewards

Make your Greyhound Racing & Horse Racing wagers count even more! Earn daily OTB Cash Rewards at many Thoroughbred, Harness and Greyhound racetracks.
  • Easy to understand rate schedule
  • No confusing point conversion programs
  • Use to wager or withdraw as cash

Bet Harness Racing

Bet Harness Racing
Bet Harness Racing online from the top Harness race tracks. Watch Free Live Video Streaming of every harness race when you bet from mobile phone, tablet, laptop or computer.
  • Earn Cash Rewards - Win or Lose
  • Hundreds of weekly Harness races
  • Free Live Video & Race Replays

Horse Betting News