It’s branded Champions Day, sponsored by insurance company FWD and is a race meeting at Shatin where it’s all about pressing that Fast Forward button and, perhaps, having a glimpse into present and future equine stars as well as riders using the platform to show the world their talents.

Don’t let the hopscotch level of advertising for this marquee value day in the Hong Kong racing calendar put you off.

Champions Day is no one trick pony and it will be no surprise to hear the various post mortems after the races and also, as many have been predicting for the past few days, wins by Danon Smash, Courier Wonder, Golden Sixty, Fantastic Way and Daring Tact.

If looking for value, one might be short-changed, but not if at Shatin, taking in those thundering hooves piloted by some of the best riders in the world while sitting at the quite wonderful Haymarket, or, as it’s been branded, “Hay Market” which makes the six star venue sound like old McDonald’s barn. It most certainly isn’t. See below.

These days, especially, it’s about quality, not quantity. Social distancing and all manner of other precautions to fight a pandemic that keeps changing course might have robbed the world of the excitement it once enjoyed. But it is how it is and it’s now about enjoying whatever is served the best one can.

Apart from the three major races- the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, the FWD Chairman’s Mile and the FWD QE11 Cup- there’s a very good undercard.

There’s also, always, always, always the ongoing battle for supremacy and the clash of the titans between the Brazilian Magic Man and the Australian Zac Attack.

Photo by @wallacewanck

Photo by @wallacewanck

The former has hit a noticeable flat patch recently, especially at Happy Valley, but as he’s always proven, at Shatin, Joao Moreira comes alive and is like an excited kid with new toys.

On Sunday, he has plenty of new toys-almost all from John Size, to see him become Harry Potter again and repel all challengers- not only the brilliance of Zac Purton, but also the grit and competitiveness of Vincent Ho, Alexis Badel, Antoine Hamelin, The Poon Train with steam coming out of his ears, a seemingly rejuvenated Blake Shinn and Hong Kong born riders Derek Leung and Matthew Chadwick.

The latter is sitting on 400 career wins and only a fool wouldn’t think he would like to reach his ton on Champions Day.

Let’s also not forget the trainers and what winning on this special day would mean to them.

The team of Trainer Francis Lui, below, Jockey Vincent CY Ho and owner Stanley Chan appear to have a “lock” on the Champions Mile with Golden Sixty.

In a field of six, the win looks like a done deal. But there’s always a fly in the ointment in these small fields. Mighty Giant (4) might be this fly. Might.

In the QE11 Cup, Japan’s Daring Tact looks hard to beat with regular rider Kohei Matsuyama making the effort to be aboard the Haruki Sugiyama trained runner- a flighty filly who needs things to go her own way.

It’s hard to look past Danon Smash in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize with the Japanese equine star to be ridden by Joao Moreira.

Other possible winners for the charismatic Brazilian include the John Size trained Fantastic Way in the third race with the David Hayes runner Trader looking a huge danger.

There’s possibly Gallant Express, also a Size runner, in Race six. Golden Link with Chadwick aboard could make a race out of it.

That man Size’s Courier Wonder should win the last. Duke Wai and Wind And Grass, a very good ride for new boy Harry Bentley, and yet another Size runner, could fill the quinella spots.

If looking for value, take your lucky pin and see where it lands in races one, two- don’t leave out Derek Leung and Victory Scholars (4) in the second- and race four. The fourth race could throw out a real spanner- and Spaniard- in the works.

Having said all this, there are no certainties in horse racing. But taking in over four hours of Hong Kong’s Champions Day is better use of one’s time than thinking of jibs and jabs and waiting for the sky to fall.

#FWDChampionsDay #DanonSmash #GoldenSixty #DaringTact #CourierWonder #JoaoMoreira #ZacPurton #JohnSize #FrancisLui #VincentHo #HKracing