National Day Cup contender Cordyceps Six ticks every box for Sha Tin feature

As a last-start winner, first-up starter and well-weighted runner, one of Hong Kong racing’s rising stars, Cordyceps Six, is the horse to beat in Saturday’s Group Three National Day Cup (1,000m) at Sha Tin.

Since the Jockey Club changed the National Day Cup’s conditions from a seven-furlong sprint to a five-furlong dash ahead of its 2014 edition, the victors of the first of Hong Kong’s two regular 1,000m races with black type have shared many characteristics.

Three of the past eight National Day Cup champions celebrated wins in their previous races. Five of the past eight National Day Cup champions enjoyed spells of more than 90 days before resuming their careers with holiday happiness.

Perhaps most importantly to punters seeking to identify moneymaking trends, the past eight National Day Cup champions carried less than 127 pounds on their backs.

Also, it does not hurt Cordyceps Six’s National Day Cup credentials that he has won over Sha Tin’s 1,000m. Of the past eight winners, four of them had triumphed over the specialist course and distance, while three of them at least had the excuse of having not tackled it prior to scorching the treasured turf en route to Group glory.

Sky Field was luckless lumping 133 pounds in last year’s National Day Cup. The 2021 Premier Cup winner at Group Three level over 1,400m, Sky Field posted the fastest third-last and last 200m splits, but his jockey, Blake Shinn, had to bide his time in the second-last furlong until a pathway to the centre of the track appeared.

Now teamed up with Luke Currie, Sky Field must carry 135 pounds as he tries to register his first win over less than 1,200m.

Fourth in last year’s National Day Cup, Stronger will attempt to finish three places higher with seven pounds greater. Stronger has won over Sha Tin’s 1,000m, but his victory happened in Class Two grade nearly two years ago, and he has failed five times.

Last year’s National Day Cup bronze medallist Lucky Patch has an eight-pound heavier impost than when Jerry Chaun Chun-lok rode him and Francis Lui Kin-wai trained him in October 2021.

Now in the care of Pierre Ng Pang-chi, Lucky Patch has a new rider as well because Luke Ferraris replaces Angus Chung Yik-lai, who partnered him three weeks ago.

Super Wealthy is the National Day Cup title holder, but no galloper has gone back to back in this race, even when it was contested over 1,400m from 1999 to 2013.

Super Wealthy set the Sha Tin 1,000m class record in the finest 54.96 seconds of his 23-appearance career, but he has lost each of his subsequent nine outings and the National Day Cup is one of just three Hong Kong pattern events his superstar rider, Zac Purton, has not taken out.

Master Eight is undefeated over Sha Tin’s 1,000m, but he has undergone multiple surgical procedures since he burst onto the scene with five spectacular successes, the last of which occurred in this year’s Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy on the straight course.

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Master Eight finished more than 10 lengths behind Duke Wai on his most recent appearance.

Finally, Harmony And Rich did not beat a horse in his one and only previous start in Group company.

Cordyceps Six ticks more National Day Cup boxes than his six Saturday opponents put together as both his trainer, Richard Gibson, and his jockey, Alexis Badel, seek their second wins in the feature race.


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