Timeform's Mark Milligan assesses the three Group 1 races on Sha Tin's cracking Sunday card and provides his best bets...
Exciting sprinter Aethero's reputation has taken a knock due to two short-price defeats on his last couple of outings, but he proved he was a high-class racehorse when winning the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint at Sha Tin in November and looks the one to beat on that form. He was sent off as favourite for the Hong Kong Sprint on the back of his two-length beating of Hot King Prawn, but was overhauled close home and could finish only third, though he was by no means disgraced given his lack of experience.
He was a big disappointment on his latest start at Sha Tin, trailing home in last, but he could never get anywhere near the front and is well worth forgiving. He is well drawn here and is expected to show his early pace.
The main danger looks to be Hot King Prawn as he is a consistent performer and has run well in defeat on a number of occasions. The progressive Voyage Warrior got the better of Hot King Prawn last time and is another entitled to respect, though Aethero stands out on his best form and gets the verdict.
Beauty Generation has been a superstar in Hong Kong, but he is by no means invincible, as four defeats in a row between October and January proved. He has won his last two starts, however, returning to form, and is bidding for a third consecutive win in this contest. There's little between him and old adversary Waikuku in terms of form, though.
Exultant looks the one to beat here and is expected to turn the tables on Time Warp, who benefited from getting an easy lead last time. However, Exultant is likely to be too short a price, and, at the likely odds, Playa del Puente makes more appeal as an each-way option. It could also be worth playing the Exultant-Playa del Puente forecast. Playa del Puente won three in Ireland for Mick Halford and has continued on an upward curve since moving to Hong Kong, only just going down in the Hong Kong Derby last time. He could be open to further improvement and should give a good account.
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