‘Size’-ing Up a Fourth Derby

Hong Kong’s 4-year-old Classic series concludes with the running of the HK$24-million BMW Hong Kong Derby Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse, and while no one will confuse any of the 14 runners signed on for Horse of the Year Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro), who became the second to sweep the series in 2020, or last year’s winner Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), who has gone on to multiple Group 1 victories in unrestricted company, it is a race that–in theory–is wide open.

Voyage Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}) was the front-running winner of the first leg of the series, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, as Jamie Kah lulled them to sleep, but, as commentator Mark McNamara put it, ‘the Bubble burst’ 300 metres from the wire in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) when he capitulated readily and Super Sunny Sing (Aus) (Nicconi {Aus}) whistled home down the centre for Golden Sixty’s jockey Vincent Ho. Neither of those gallopers will be fancied to add a second leg in the Derby, but rather Beauty Eternal (Aus) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) is the likely favourite despite making his Classic series debut. Zac Purton, who won the 2015 Derby aboard Luger (Aus) (Choisir {Aus}), rides from gate seven for the latter’s trainer John Size. The perennial leading conditoner is in search of a fourth victory in the domestic centrepiece, all since 2012.

“I think it’s fine,” Size said of the draw. “Zac has options from there and I’m sure that he’ll have a better idea of what he wants to do according to who’s drawn around him, but I think seven is fine. It wouldn’t seem like it’s any great disadvantage.”

Super Sunny Sing will rightfully have his fair share of admirers off a fast-finishing victory over Sword Point (Aus) (American Pharoah) in the Classic Cup, while Galaxy Witness (Aus) (Star Witness {Aus}) also got home strongly from the back of the field to be third three weekends ago.

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The nominal Sunday co-feature is the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup over seven furlongs, where G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile victor California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) figures a strong favourite against the two most recent winners of the race–Waikuku (Ire) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) in 2021 and last year’s victor Wellington (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}).

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