Sha Tin racing: Champions and Chater Cup preview

Hong Kong racing preview

Comments

The Champions and Chater Cup is one of Hong Kong’s significant races. Not only is it the final Group 1 race of the season, but it is also the last leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown, and follows on from the Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m). The 2020 Champions and Chater Cup is on Sunday 24 May at Sha Tin racecourse.

This race has an incredible history. First run in 1870 as the Champion Stakes, it became part of Hong Kong’s social fabric under British rule. In 1926, it was renamed the Chater Cup, after former club chairman, Sir Catchick Paul Chater. It has carried its current title since 1955.

The Champions and Chater Cup has been run over a variety of distances in its history, but since 1995 it has been run over 2400m – one of only three races run at that distance each season. It gained international Group 1 status in 2010 and last year it was ranked 79th of the top 100 Group 1 races in the world.

Past Champion and Chater Cup winners include legendary Hong Kong star River Verdon, who won it an incredible four times in a row from 1991 to 1994, and three-time winners Super Win, Silver Lining and Viva Pataca. Other famous winners are Indigenous, Pakistan Star, Werther and Vengeance Of Rain.

Last year, the race was won by Exultant, who is hot favourite in Sportsbet’s Champions and Chater Cup betting markets to win it again.

Champions and Chater Cup field and tips

There are only seven horses in the Champions and Chater Cup field nominated to contest the race at Sha Tin racecourse – and they come from only two stables. This is a unique situation for the final Group 1 meeting of the Hong Kong racing season, which concludes on 12 July.

Expat Aussie trainer John Moore, in his final season in Hong Kong, has four entries in the Champions and Chater Cup field, including the promising Chefano. But it’s trainer Tony Cruz who holds the upper hand – not with numbers, but with the first and second favourites, Exultant and Furore.

Last year’s winner, Exultant is rated at $1.30 odds at the time of writing in Sportsbet’s Champions and Chater Cup betting, ahead of Furore ($6.00), Chefano ($10.00) and Time Warp ($10.00).

The Irish-bred Exultant was ridden by Aussie star jockey Zac Purton when he beat Rise High and Dark Dream in 2019. He goes into this race having won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on 26 April, beating Furore and Moore’s Eagle Way.

In the first leg of the Triple Crown – the Hong Kong Cup on 16 February – Exultant came on very hard late to just fail to catch run-along leader and stablemate Time Warp. Exultant and Purton are a lethal combination.

The New Zealand-bred Furore looks to be the only danger to Exultant in the Champions and Chater Cup field. The son of Pierro hasn’t won since March 2019, but his second in the QEII Cup was an encouraging return to form and he should be able to track the speed that will be set by his stablemate, Time Warp.

Chefano, who was bred in South Africa, set the pace when an impressive Group 3 winner at Sha Tin racecourse on 3 May. It was the first time the gelding has been to 2400m in Hong Kong and he relished it.

Moore’s other great hope is for Eagle Way – winner of the 2017 Queensland Derby – to recapture winning form. Eagle Way may have been ridden too close to the lead when he came a tiring fifth behind Chefano in his last start. The 2400m and a quieter ride off a fast pace will suit him.

Champions and Chater Cup tips: It’s hard to go past Exultant, because he looks the stand-out, but it’s worth saving bets on Furore and the improving Chefano.

Hong Kong Jockeys’ Premiership tips

Arch rival jockeys Zac Purton and Joao Moreira are locked in another titanic battle for the Hong Kong Jockeys’ Premiership title.

The champion jockeys have each ridden 117 winners this season – 50 wins clear of their nearest rival, the Mauritian master Karis Teetan.

Purton ended Douglas Whyte’s 13-season dominance of Hong Kong racing when he won the title in 2013–14. He won his second title in 2017–18, when he stopped Moreira’s run of three premierships. Purton toppled Moreira again last season when he rode 168 winners.

Sportsbet is offering odds for the Hong Kong Jockeys’ Premiership betting market. At the time of writing, the premiership race is neck and neck, with Purton holding slight favouritism at $1.85 odds ahead of Moriera at $1.95 leading into Sunday’s big Group 1 meeting. Purton will ride the raging-hot favourite Exultant in a seven-strong Champions and Chater Cup field.

However, for those followers of Moreira, it’s worth noting that he holds a significant edge in winning strike rate this season – Moreira is striking at 22.24 percent compared to Purton’s 15.6 percent.

In recent weeks it has been Moreira who has been making a late-season charge, and his Hong Kong Jockey Premiership odds have shortened dramatically from $2.20 into the current $1.95 as a result. In contrast, Purton has been driven from season-low $1.60 odds to $1.85.

The Hong Kong racing season concludes at Sha Tin on 12 July. It will be an enthralling battle.

Hong Kong Premiership tips: Our money is on Purton, especially if Exultant takes home the Champions and Chater Cup field.

Sportsbet offers the best odds with its betting markets on all Hong Kong meetings at Sha Tin racecourse (weekends) and Happy Valley racecourse (every Wednesday).

What do you think?