One of the most historic races in the Hong Kong calendar tops the bill at Sha Tin this Sunday (4 November) and the Group Three Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1800m) – with a tradition dating back over 170 years – revolves around a handful of fascinating riddles.
Can Time Warp (131lb) recapture the freewheeling brilliance that carried him to two Group 1 successes over 2000m last season?
The omens don’t look great after three consecutive flops and Zac Purton admits that the mercurial chestnut “is at the crossroads” in a race where his kid brother looms as a huge threat.
That younger brother is Glorious Forever – hugely impressive to the eye and against the clock in three wins under Purton – but can new rider Chad Schofield trim his long, lean frame down to just 113lb to capture the Purse for a second year running?
Schofield’s confidence in Frankie Lor’s fast-improving youngster is infectious, but perhaps the most intriguing riddle relates to whether the most talked about horse in Hong Kong can deliver the power-packed finish that deserted him on his first start this season.
Pakistan Star (133lb) was pipped to the Horse of the Year title by Beauty Generation last term despite signing off with two commanding Group 1 successes and returns with a point to prove after fading into fourth behind that exceptional rival in the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (1600m) on his return last month.
Tony Cruz’s gelding recorded one of the slowest final 400m splits of his entire career that day, losing ground to all the trio who beat him when it mattered, and history students will be well aware that no horse has defied top weight in the Purse since John Moore’s Viva Macau gave Purton one of his first big Hong Kong wins a decade ago.
However, Karis Teetan feels there are several factors to suggest that something much more like the real Pakistan Star will be on view this weekend.
“Beauty Generation already had a win under his belt last time and my horse was a bit fresh after his break, but he gave me a beautiful feel as he moved up in the straight and can only improve,” he said.