Hong Kong expert Tim Carroll returns with analysis for Sunday’s big FWD Champions Day fixture at Sha Tin, all live on Sky Sports Racing.

This Sunday sees one of the highlights on the Hong Kong racing calendar, FWD Champions Day.

This exciting 10-race card from Sha Tin features three Group One contests, all live on Sky Sports Racing, with international runners from both hemispheres converging for record prize money in excess of £6.5 million in the three features alone…


Chairmans Sprint (7.50am)

Lucky Sweynesse has taken over the mantle as Hong Kong’s leading sprinter, recording six wins from eight starts during the current campaign, with genuine excuses in both defeats.

With a local rating of 130, along with Romantic Warrior, he is now considered the second-best horse in town behind Golden Sixty, and given his rating has shot up 32lbs during the current season, he may even have a bit more to offer.

The slight concern is he can be a tad tardy out of the gates, which he was when defeating Wellington last time, but purely on the formbook, he’s the one they all have to beat.

Wellington, who has won the last two renewals of this, is a world class sprinter with four Group Ones next to his name and looks the main threat to Lucky Sweynesse, but he has been in behind him at his last three starts with no excuses.

Sight Success was placed behind Lucky Sweynesse and Wellington in February before running with merit when fourth in the Al Quoz at Meydan last time, but he’ll need a career best at his twenty-sixth start to win this.

Aguri is an interesting contender as he is from Japan, but all five wins (from ten starts) have been over seven furlongs to a mile, and he was well held his only start at the top level, which was over this trip.

Flaming Rib will represent Hugo Palmer, and it’s great to see them out here, but with an international rating of 111, and having finished in behind both Sight Success and Duke Of Wai in Dubai, he would have to run a big career best to upset the top two.


FWD Champions Mile (9am)

Golden Sixty, who needs no introduction and will be attempting to become the first horse to win the race three times, has been at the top of his game on his last couple of starts with wins over the high class Romantic Warrior.

He will be stepping back from ten furlongs, but he did the same thing when winning this in 2021. These races can get tactical, and he has been on the wrong end of that a couple of times, but there are a few here who usually go forward, which will hopefully ensure a genuinely gallop, and all things being fair on the day, he’s the one that all have to beat.

California Spangle, who has won ten of his seventeen starts and has never missed a place, is the second best miler in Hong Kong, but he trails one-three in the head-to-head with Golden Sixty. His best chance of beating the local champ is by turning it into a sit and sprint, and whilst I think he’ll lead, with Healthy Happy engaged, I don’t see anything less than an honest gallop.

Voyage Bubble is the new kid on the block after winning two legs of the four-year-old Classic series, including when circling the field early for a gutsy win in the Derby last time, and he is two from two over this trip, but this will be his acid test and if the ratings are to be believed, he has a mountain to climb with the top two at set weights.

My Oberon, who started off with William Haggas and ran with merit a couple of times at the top level in Europe, was last seen when runner-up in the Group One Doncaster Handicap in Sydney. He has shown he acts on firmer ground and shouldn’t be underestimated despite having a bit to find on the ratings.

Aegon won the 2000 New Zealand Guineas as a three-year-old, and he does enjoy this trip, but with just one win in over two years, I’d be surprised if he could mix it up with the top few.


FWD QEII Cup (9.40am)

Romantic Warrior looked a world beater when winning the Hong Kong Cup over this trip in December, with several highly-rated Japanese rivals well beaten in behind, including Danon The Kid, who was over four-lengths back in second.

He has been turned over in two subsequent runs, but the first of those was when he lost no admirers finishing runner-up to Golden Sixty over a mile, before being beaten a nose as an odds-on favourite once again to Golden Sixty over this trip last month.

He’s a versatile sort, which will come in handy as Silvestre De Sousa will probably look to dictate from the front on Money Catcher, and I’d suggest that James McDonald, who saw Dubai Honour run straight by him on Anamoe in the Queen Elizabeth, will be keen to grab the leaders back, or at least be forward, with his main dangers in behind.

Dubai Honour, who has looked a picture in the mornings, arrives having been a dominate winner of two Group Ones in Australia, and will be very hard to hold out if running to the same level. The talking point has been the ground, but he dotted up when winning the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill on Good ground.

Geraldina, who will strip fitter for her first-up run earlier this month, shouldn’t be underestimated, having won at the top level in Japan when she had the subsequent Hong Kong Vase winner, Win Marilyn in behind, and she was placed behind Japan’s latest champion, Equinox in the Arima Kinen last December.

Danon The Kid was runner-up to Romantic Warrior in the Hong Kong Cup last December and ran with plenty of merit last time out in the lead-up when placed at the top level in Japan, but he was well held by Romantic Warrior in December.

Watch FWD Champions Day all live on Sky Sports Racing on Sunday, April 30

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