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HK Champions Mile

Off to Hong Kong to complete the weekend world tour of top-class racing, and possibly to witness the best horse in the world. Not a big field to contend with, but that so often happens when you have one horse so dominant. Get ready Royal Ascot, you might be seeing the best horse since Frankel...

With the preview from Sha Tin, it's international racing aficionado Jason Lincoln, @the_racing_wiz.


Sha Tin, 0905 BST, 1805 AEST
G1, 1600m, Turf

Form guide

Sunday at Sha Tin sees the 15th running of the HK$15m Champions Mile which is the third leg of the Asian Mile Challenge. Although it is an International Group 1, it has attracted no interest from overseas trainers this year such is the ever-widening reputation of the ‘Hometown Champ’ Able Friend.

Previous winners include champions Electronic Unicorn, Bullish Luck and Good Baa Baa; Bullish Luck winning probably the most famous edition of the Champions Mile in 2005 when he ended the seventeen-race winning streak of the legendary Silent Witness, under a superb ride from Gerald Mosse. He went on to beat a stellar field again the following year making him the first dual winner. Xtension has since repeated that feat and this year’s field also includes a previous winner in Dan Excel. Both of those horses were trained by John Moore and he will be looking for his sixth winner when he saddles up 75% of Sunday’s field.

Secret Sham looks the logical pacemaker here with Dan Excel keeping him company. The only ‘spanner’ I see is if Zac Purton attempts to lead. No horse in the world can match Able Friend for turn of foot so their best option may be to try and ride a tactical race from the front.

1. ABLE FRIEND - 4/11 is about best price around the globe and you won’t get any better than that fixed odds. The Australian totes may throw up some opportunity for better given the John Size/Zac Purton factor with Luger and Tommy Berry is riding a horse well known to Australians in Dan Excel. The form is there for all to see and doesn’t require much analyzing. He was not as visually impressive to some last start when not fully wound up for the Chairman’s Trophy but he still ran a blistering 1:33.76(400m 21.93). They say time only matters if you’re in jail, but this horse continuously goes sub 1:34 and home in sub 22 secs. He was beaten in this race last year by Variety Club, but it was run on a shifting surface at the end of a long preparation that had seen him contest all legs of the 4yo Triple Crown.

He will win but at 4-11 there isn’t much money to be made. What I would suggest is that you take the 7/2 for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot for as much as they will let you have, because it will be like stealing wheat from blind chooks. The most anxious you will be is waiting for the trainer to declare he’s going. They won’t get near him.

2. DAN EXCEL – 33-1. Probably a touch of overs at that price but near enough. Has been a great servant to John Moore’s stables having won $HK37.7m and is a previous winner of this race. He went to Australia for the Spring Carnival but things didn’t go to plan and he never ran. His first two runs back were very serviceable and his effort when fourth to Able Friend last start showed he wasn’t far away from winning form. He was the winner of last year’s Singapore International Cup and that looks likely to be a very suitable race for him again the way he is going.

Couldn’t see him beating Able Friend but he is a must for exotics bets and should be kept in mind for Singapore.

3. LUGER – 5-2. Only three 4yos have won this race out of the fourteen runnings which isn’t entirely surprising given the programming of Hong Kong racing. By early May, most good 4yos will have been through the Triple Crown series plus a number of lead-ups leaving them jaded come the Champions Mile; Able Friend last year was a prime example. But with Luger it’s not so much the case. He has been lightly raced this season due to a heart irregularity suffered in November. Subsequently he was off the scene for three months between November and February, and John Size’s effort to have him ready for the Hong Kong Derby is yet another crowning achievement for the master trainer. The Hong Derby was his first ever attempt in Group company, albeit age restricted, and he won that off a rating of 100. Sure the 4yos have shown themselves to be a nice bunch of horses, but we not only got a different winner in each leg of the Triple Crown, only one horse (Giants Treasure) placed in two or more legs and he was back winning in Class 2 last week. That goes some way to explaining why I think the task is ahead of him here, and why I think the price is complete poison. Make no mistake; the win in the Derby was extraordinary. But Able Friend is a different beast.

Willing to put it on the line a little here, but I just don’t see that he is any value whatsoever; I think he should be almost double the price, and I don’t think he is any good thing to run second.

4. REWARDING HERO - 25-1. Genuine horse that gives his all every time. He has graduated from Class 3 all the way to Group company and he is now suffering from just being too high in the ratings for his own good. He went super last start when third to Able Friend; he chimed in looking slightly dangerous at the 250m but his run came to an end and he missed out on second by a bob of the head. He is well exposed and we have no doubt seen the best of him already.

From gate one he will three back the fence smoking the cherry pipe and I’m expecting he will go close to the top three again.

5. SECRET SHAM – 100-1. Should probably be closer to 1000-1 and he is only there to keep a genuine speed for Able Friend.


6. REAL SPECIALIST – 100-1. Has been a really good horse for a long time now, but has always struggled at Group 1 level. Was a genuine Group 2/Group 3 horse in his day, and he was able to beat Divine Calling in a tactical 1400m Class 1 race back in February. His rating is back to 110 now and unless he does something crazy and runs second or third here, you will find him going very close back in a Class 1 before the season is out.

Not today.

1 Able Friend
2 Rewarding Hero
3 Luger
4 Dan Excel


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