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The Mandarin’s Sunday Selections for 10th December 2023

The Mandarin’s Sunday Selections from Sha Tin & Cork

Sha Tin

Longines Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) 06.10
Warm Heart
Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo filly was just a neck away from landing the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last month, and gets the vote here. Having just lost out to his great rival, Frankie Dettori for that prestigious prize, Ryan Moore will be hoping for more Group 1 honours at Sha Tin. The main threats will come from the Japanese pair of Lebensstil and Geraldina, with the former of these laid out for this race after taking the Ashai Hai St Lite Kinen at Nakayama back in September, while Geraldina, jockeyed by Ryan Moore, was a one-and-three-quarter length fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto. That inside knowledge should give Ryan Moore a racing edge over Geraldina, and with an ideal draw in Stall 1, the Yorkshire Oaks & Prix Vermeille winner is the one to follow

Longines Hong Kong Sprint (Group 1) 06.50
Lucky Sweynesse
There’s British and Irish interest in this valuable Sprint prize with both John Quinn and Aidan O’Brien making the long trip over to Sha Tin. The brilliant Highfield Princess takes her place in yet another Group 1, while Aesop’s Fables represents Ballydoyle after a fine third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last month. However, Lucky Sweynesse is right at the top of his game this year, having won seven and finished runner-up in his two other starts on his home track. Five years old now, so reaching the peak of his career, and with Zac Purton firing him out of Stall 5, hard to oppose on home soil

Longines Hong Kong Mile (Group 1) 08.00
Golden Sixty (nap)
The race of the day, as the brilliant and once unbeatable Golden Sixty looks to have one last day in the sun on his home track. The young pretender to Golden Sixty’s crown, California Spangle, had been edging ever closer to him over last season, and finally made the breakthrough in this race last year. Where Vincent Ho had always been happy to drop Golden Sixty back at the rear of the pack, and rely on his devastating turn of foot rounding the home turn when on that astonishing run of sixteen straight wins here between 2019 & 2021, it was noticeable that he pushed Golden Sixty forward in that race, knowing the younger legs were coming. It’s complicated this time, with Golden Sixty getting a dragback draw in Stall 14, widest of all, while California Spangle gets to control the race from Stall 3, but Golden Sixty is taken to have one more Gold Medal

Longines Hong Kong Cup (Group 1) 08.40
Romantic Warrior (nb)
The home team should score again with Romantic Warrior in the last of the Group Ones on Sha Tin’s biggest day. He should be nicely warmed up for this after a spin out at Flemington, where he was a respectable fourth in that Group 1 contest over this trip. Japanese raider Prognosis, and Aidan O’Brien’s Luxembourg head a list of dangers, along with Patrice Cottier’s Horizon Dore, but Romantic Warrior is at his optimum trip on home soil. Stall 7 should see Romantic Warrior get a decent track position, and he’s the one to beat


Singletons Supervalu Stayers Novice Hurdle (Grade 3) 1.15
What Path
An interesting clash between What Path and Solitary Man, the one-two over course and distance here last month. Enda Bolger’s Solitary Man had the upper hand that day, but this time they line up on level terms, so without a 4lb pull in Solitary Man’s favour, What Path is taken to make up the 2 & 1/2 length winning distance. Henry de Bromhead’s got his yard in decent nick, so Mahon’s Way enters calculations too, but the vote goes to What Path in the final appraisal for the in-form Champion Trainer, Willie Mullins

O’Flynn Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase (Grade 2) 1.45
Willie Mullins fields three of the five declared for this Grade 2 Mares Novice Chase, but Hauturiere looks the stable first string with Paul Townend up top. With the Triumph Hurdle third, Zenta, also lining up, it’s a decent enough field, but French import Hauturiere is the one to follow now fencing. She made no mistake on her first try over fences, scoring by 10 lengths at Killarney before taking a summer break, and with form on soft ground, won’t be minding conditions here. Gordon Elliott’s Harmonya Maker was pretty impressive on her chasing bow, but Hauturiere gets the nudge

Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase (Grade 2) 2.15
El Fabiolo
The Arkle hero from last season’s Cheltenham Festival gets his campaign under way a day after his main rival Jonbon. With this pair expected to aim their season at an appearance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, there’ll be plenty of keen watchers seeing how their performances at Sandown Park and here at Cork stack up. Fil Dor and Maskada from Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromheads’ yards respectively are both quality chasers in their own right, but both fall far short of El Fabiolo’s quality, so are running for the minor places. El Fabiolo to win at a canter, but at a price to match.

The Mandarin

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