Happy Valley (Image: Hong Kong Jockey Club)
Last-start winner Globe Trotter may be worth sticking with in this event given the form out of the race he won has taken a strong boost with Never Better (second) and Mint Master (third) having both come out to win at their respective next outings. In addition, Globe Trotter has drawn nicely in gate one for a leader and apprentice Jack Wong just has to rate this son of Flying Spur similarly to his last ride to land the spoils. Brett Prebble has a decent chance to figure in the finish aboard Octal Luck, who steps up to 1200m following a sound third on his latest run at the city venue. There is no doubt there will be decent market support for Mr Kool with the booking of Joao Moreira and in fairness based on his best form this season, he looks capable of winning. The drop in class is interesting for Sky King (formerly Sky Spur in Australia), who stayed on nicely at Sha Tin last time and while this is his first attempt around Happy Valley, he looks ready to show his worth.
John Size’s Giddy Giddy has been plagued with bad barriers of late and with the luxury of a low gate (5) this time, he might be able to pinch this low-grade affair. The grey son of Exceed And Excel has been a costly galloper for punters in his career and while one might argue his form is significantly better over 1000m as opposed to the 1200m he strikes this time, the good barrier may offset that to some degree. A similar case can be made for Forever Fun, who had a torrid run when contesting the lead three-wide without cover last start, and his form prior was sound. He should position well and can figure. Optimism rarely wins but has been noted making ground in a number of recent starts and if they go hard enough then he could hit the frame. Of the remainder, Oriental Fantasia and Intellectual Glide are both limited but from good draws they merit some consideration.
Paul O’Sullivan and Zac Purton combine here with Moment Of Power, who should prove hard to beat. The speedy bay gelding has only had three career starts, of which two have come at Happy Valley, with a win and a second. He was no match when conceding 5kg to the winner but ran well in defeat and since that run has moved stylishly in a recent barrier trial. Lyric Ace has the services of boom apprentice Kei Chiong, who will no doubt take some catching out on the lead. The drop back to 1000m is a positive but there are some health concerns given this is his first run back from a bleed. The outside draw hasn't done St Yazin any favours, but with the pace on this Valley specialist should be powering home. Of the remainder, Fish’n’Chips and Fantastico merit consideration, more so the latter who takes a drop in to this class.
There will be a short-priced favourite in this event with The Sylph to be ridden by Moreira and while his recent form is sound, he is still yet to win from 23 starts. So even though he must be respected as a winning chance, it might pay to look elsewhere for better value. Lightning And Gold can be considered an each-way chance based on his recent form and the return to the city course means he is meeting slightly inferior opposition. In an open race, Danewin Express should get a good run from the gate and could figure in the finish, while much the same applies to Expectator, who has fallen back down to a competitive mark in the handicap. Bossiee will probably lead in this event but he has proven a touch weak over the 1650m while Baltic Warrior is on the quick back-up and generally horses perform very well in HK on the quick back-up. Overall, it is a tough race.
It is pretty hard to knock the recent form of Master Viking, who is bidding for his fifth-successive win. The rise in grade is negated by the postage stamp weight to be carried of 49.5kg. In addition, the form out of the last win has been franked with Never Better prevailing on his next outing, and it is hard to envisage any runner trying to eye-ball this leader, who is a straightforward ride for Chiong. There were excuses for course and distance specialist All Win Boy on his last outing when he pulled up lame, and going in to that effort he beat progressive sprinter Back In Black. Happy Surveys is a consistent galloper but top weight and a wide draw probably mean that a minor place is more likely than a win. Invincible Fresh has had a stable change and seemed to trial very well for the new stable two weeks ago. Of the rest, the query runner is Numero Uno, who is more than capable of winning off his current handicap mark, but he has failed on his only attempt at the city course. He deserves another chance.
This event is wide open and it’s hard to work out what will even start favourite, in any case, suffice to say that you could make a similar case for a number of runners. King Bountiful has been in stellar form of late having won three of his past four, but he drops back sharply in trip from 2200m to a mile and that looks far from ideal. There was a lot to like about the last run of Giant Turtle when in defeat, sitting three-wide without cover for the entire when narrowly defeated by Rapid Triumph. The main worry is that Giant Turtle was a $100 chance on that occasion and his form leading in was dire. Noble De Man (fifth) and Spinning Dancer (sixth) were not too far away in that event and obviously have claims again. Pearl Win was caught wide throughout in his last outing, and was over this course and distance in his previous run before that, so he too looks capable in a race with a stack of chances.
South African import Travel Comforts was far too good for his rivals over the minimum trip at Happy Valley last start and while he takes the rise in grade, he gets in particularly well weighted from a good draw and should prove hard to run down again. There are, however, a few legitimate contenders and one of those has to be Harbour Alert, who will be ridden by Prebble. Harbour Alert recently changed stables to join O’Sullivan and has managed two seconds in as many starts for the Kiwi handler. He has been knocking on the door for a win and with his solid credentials over this track and distance, he is clearly a leading chance. David Hall’s No Money No Talk remains in solid form but may have to settle for a minor prize as he has crept back up in the handicap for his consistency. Of the others, Fantastic Feeling was unlucky last start and could atone, while Buddy Bundy has been running better than the bare facts suggest and is one to include in exotics.
It could be a big day for Chiong, and she looks to have another good ride with Super Fluke in this event. The lack of tempo and wide draw proved costly last time for Super Fluke and it is fair to say this gelding hasn't exactly had the rub-of-the-green in recent outings. The main concern is that this will be his first attempt around the tight city circuit, but he should get the right run and relish the move up to a mile. Tom’s Charm has been holding his form well and with Moreira getting down to ride light, he must feel this son of Testa Rossa has decent claims. The recent form of Marvel Hero has been more than respectable and this may even be a touch easier than what he has been facing. King Of Mongolia has never missed the frame over the course and distance, albeit from three starts, but Nash Rawiller is nicely drawn and should get every chance to make his presence felt. Pikachu and Ten Flames are others to consider for the minors.
This is the feature event on the card and Moreira and Caspar Fownes have a strong chance with impressive last-start winner So Caffe. He annihilated his opposition over 1650m a month ago and although he rises considerably in class, the manner of his latest victory suggested he would be hard to beat again. Similarly, Inventor was far too good for his rivals over this course and distance when positing a similar winning margin of almost five lengths. He had been most unlucky on his two previous starts when badly held-up so this quinella of So Caffe and Inventor does make plenty of appeal given the strength of their recent form. Ultimate Glory has been holding his form well and with a touch of luck from the gate could hit the frame again, while Club Life will be trying to dictate the pace and should find the lead easily from gate one.
This is the best quality race of the day in terms of class and in a race with a number of chances, it is hard to look past Back In Black. The speedy Australian import has won five races in his rookie season and could easily make it six. He adores the tight Happy Valley circuit and this race sets up well for him with plenty of speed. Having said that, Fabulous One comes back sharply in class, having been beaten just over three lengths by Peniaphobia on his latest outing. He might just have a class edge on this field. Apollo’s Choice and Accepted both should get good stalking runs and their respective recent form has been sound. High Five hasn't been beaten far by similar opposition lately and with the apprentice’s claim is another that could easily land the spoils.
Best Bet: Race 9 No. 7 So Caffe
Second Best: Race 3 No. 2 Moment Of Power
Value: Race 2 No. 1 Giddy Giddy
Race 7: 2-5-9
Race 8: 1-3-4-5-11-12
Race 9: 7-11
Race 10: 1-3-4-6-7