Racing UK

Editor's Blog

Charles can finally be Great at 50-1 in Hong Kong

11 December 2015

There are two horses I am particularly interested in that are running in Hong Kong on Sunday morning who have been dreadfully unlucky in their lead-up runs.

The market is very much aware of one of them, but the other has been ignored completely.

The first, is Free Eagle, whose misfortunes in the Irish Champion Stakes in September and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe amonth later have not been missed.

Dermot Weld’s lightly-raced four-year-old currently trades at a best-priced 4-1 with Skybet for the Hong Kong Cup, a race which international raiders have farmed this century.

On his best form, Free Eagle should rightly be favourite but that does not factor in that after just seven races there is surely room for improvement. 

Free Eagle's defeat at Leopardstown after he was barged out of the way by Golden Horn still reads well given the subsequent exploits of the Derby winner in the Arc and in the Breeders’ Cup Turf behind Found, who was the runner-up in Ireland.

Free Eagle was hampered by Treve’s hanging in Paris and having shown up well in track work this week he looks a major player.

The configuration of Sha Tin is such that in the Sprint you have little chance of winning over six furlongs if you are drawn wide. Since 2006 there has been only one winner, one runner-up and one horse to finish third from the five widest post positions.

Charles The Great is a sprinter who, on paper, has shown little since he beat the top-class Lucky Nine in the Sprint Cup last April.  

You only have to look at the gates he has emerged from, however, to see that those runs were often over before they started.

Last time out when he was fifth to Sprint favourite Gold-Fun he was drawn ten of 11. Before that he emerged from stall 12. Prior to that he broke from 11 of 12.  In June, it was eight of nine. In May it was no better from 13 of 14.

His luckless sequence goes on. In April when he was to defend his Sprint Cup crown Charles The Great was allotted stall two. He fluffed the start, did not get a clear run and finished like a train. We could continue down this route but you get the picture. Although it is always dangerous to back an unlucky horse, when you can get 50-1 each-way about a runner finally drawn well in the No.7 slot it is worth at least considering.

“I really hope he gets a good draw because he’s another who has done very well for us despite running the proverbial beer garden in his last few,” trainer John Moore said before Wednesday’s post position ceremony. “He’s just been trapped wide and Gerald Mosse has been incredibly pleased with efforts despite those trips. He’s a real genuine bugger and we are very happy to take our chances with him.”

In the Mile it is easy to side with Able Friend and the much-vaunted Japanese raider Maurice, ridden by Ryan Moore, but Esoterique is one of Europe’s best milers and had no race last time in Keeneland.

On figures Esoterique is one of the few who can trouble Able Friend and at the Breeders’ Cup she had no chance whatsoever in a race that did not favour at all her come-from-behind style. I’m happy to take the 12-1 each-way and look forward to watching her go hoof-to-hoof during the latter stages with fellow hold-up horse Able Friend, AKA the ‘Beast From The East.’

The Vase looks at the mercy of the French, who have won the 12-furlong contest ten times. Although Flintshire is likely to make a bold bid to defend his crown the lightly-raced, and talented, Dariyan looks over-priced at 11-1 with Bet365.

Three-year-olds have not the best record at Hong Kong’s International event, Dariyan’s his dam, Daryakana, won the Vase in 2009 at the end of her three-year-old campaign, while fellow European raiders Snow Fairy (2010 Cup), Alexander Goldrun (2004 Cup) and Vallee Enchantee (2003 Vase) and Dermot Weld’s Additional Risk (1991 Bowl) all struck for the Classic generation. 

Geoffrey Riddle's Sunday Sha Tin tips:

6.00 Sha Tin: Dariyan each-way at 11-1 with Bet365

6.40 Sha Tin: Charles The Great at 50-1 with Betfair Sportsbook

6.40 Sha Tin: Combination exactas: Gold-Fun/Charles The Great/Mongolian Saturday

7.50 Sha Tin: Esoterique at 12-1 with BetVictor and Skybet

8.30 Sha Tin: Free Eagle at 4-1 with Skybet

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