SUPER LEADER and Doug Whyte
Your comprehensive guide to the race meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday, with a preview from Clint Hutchison, race-by-race analysis by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and selections from media presenters.
Clint Hutchison: The Cricket Club Valley Stakes is the main event at Happy Valley this week and on paper it would be no surprise if it boiled down to a battle between the two jockeys battling for the championship, with Joao Moreira riding Thunder Stomp and Zac Purton aboard Let’s Take It Easy.
A slight tactical advantage might go to Moreira aboard Thunder Stomp who beat home Let’s Take It Easy the last time they clashed, which incidentally came over the course and distance. Moreira from a low draw should find a handy position and providing Thunder Stomp can hold his form from that outing then he should figure in the finish once again.
However, Let’s Take It Easy is the preference here quiet clearly, as he was posted three wide without cover for the journey on his last start and still kept on quite gamely. A more positive ride in the early stages might make all the difference and with any sort of luck he can atone. He was a beaten favourite on his last start, but he might be Eachway odds this time from the wide draw and is worth following again.
Purton could easily add to his tally earlier on the card, in the fourth event, with Buoyant Boy ready to score. This galloper has been luckless in a series of runs this preparation, but he has been regularly hitting the line with plenty of purpose and from a better draw on this occasion in a race with plenty of expected pace, he will be ideally suited. A Win bet is suggested, and if you take an Exacta there is one main danger in Flying Monkey, who battled quite bravely when wide over the minimum trip on his last start and is drawn to get a more economical run on this occasion.
There is a good value bet in a competitive final race on the card, with Dougie Whyte having a great chance to score aboard Super Leader. This galloper was simply too far out of his ground when taken back from a wide gate last time and rattled home in the some of the best sectionals at the meeting. He can settle a lot closer this time from a favourable draw and has a great chance to post his third career win in Hong Kong, with Whyte having ridden him in the other two.
Race 4 5 Win
Race 6 4 Eachway
Race 8 12 Eachway
RACE 1: MOUNT CAMERON HANDICAP
#2 My Blessing returns to Class 5 for this test. He has a good record in this grade and he is well-suited with Victor Wong aboard. If he can get out in front, he’ll be hard to run down. #1 Aeroluminance is always a chance in these sorts of races. He should get a good run from the inside gate and he’s right in the mix. #4 Penzance ran well over this course and distance last time out. He’s shown hints of ability in the past and he can figure with Joao Moreira jumping aboard. #3 Sweet Bean is next best.
RACE 2: MOUNT NICHOLSON HANDICAP
#3 Photon Willie has not won in two and a half years but his last win came over this course and distance at the top of Class 3. He’s now down in Class 4 with the blinkers back on again and it won’t take much for him to figure in here. #2 Go Go Win will likely roll to the front with 10-pound claimer Victor Wong aboard. Expect him to finish around the mark. #1 Heroic Guru is quirky but he went close last time out with Joao Moreira aboard. The Magic Man sticks solid and he remains a threat. Standby starter #5 Kiram is not without a hope.
RACE 3: SHOUSON HILL HANDICAP
#8 Noble Delight is still far from the complete package but he’s coming along the right way. If he’s able to take a step forward at his first start around a bend, he can threaten in this spot. #6 Junzi has been racing well in recent starts. He’s a chance yet again. #3 Split Of A Second has been finding form and looks to be heading in the right direction. A win doesn’t appear too far away. #11 Formula Galore has an awkward draw but won’t be too far away.
RACE 4: SHOUSON HILL HANDICAP
#5 Buoyant Boy has been showing good signs without winning. Zac Purton jumps aboard for the first time and he’s right in contention. #9 Thou Shall Sing gets Purton’s rival Joao Moreira on his back for the first time. He’s drawn well and he should be in the mix with the step up to 1200m. #12 Master Viking has been showing mixed signs of late but he’s always a chance if he gets his own way on the lead. He can’t be dismissed. #2 Flying Monkey has run well at his last two starts. He has a better gate and he’ll be around the mark.
RACE 5: VIOLET HILL HANDICAP
#6 High Five ran better at his last start in April, but hasn’t stepped out since then. He performed poorly in a dirt trial last week but that was on a sloppy dirt surface that has never suited him. If he’s able to get a nice run, he’s able to score here. #1 Starlight is racing well although he still shapes as a horse that is on his mark. Nevertheless, he can’t be dismissed. #3 Fantastic Feeling has raced honestly this season without winning. Zac Purton takes his first ride on the six-year-old and he’s a contender. #7 Zero Hedge will find it tough from gate 12 but he’s a place chance.
RACE 6: THE CRICKET CLUB VALLEY STAKES
#8 Silverfield has been a bright spark in Michael Freedman’s debut season, racing well despite only winning once. He only just missed out last start and he should get every chance to score a second win for the term here. #9 Har Har Heart has been racing well. Jack Wong replaces Joao Moreira and it wouldn’t surprise to see him figure. #12 Mr Picasso has always shaped as being a horse that would appreciate the 1650m, but he has been his own worst enemy at times. Still, he deserves respect at this trip for the first time. #5 Thunder Stomp can finish in the money.
RACE 7: WONG NAI CHUNG GAP HANDICAP
#3 Hot King Prawn tasted defeat for the first time in his six-start career last time out when stepping up to 1200m for the first time. However, the performance was as good as anything he had shown before, chasing a hot tempo under 133 pounds and only finding light-weight Wishful Thinker too strong late. The form out of the race has been strong and, at his Happy Valley debut, he should just be winning. #1 Archippus is a marvel who keeps running well. He can’t be overlooked. #8 Solomon’s Bay ran well enough on debut and can take a step forward here. #5 Super Fluke might be on his mark but he’s racing well enough to figure in the finish.
RACE 8: VIOLET HILL HANDICAP
#8 Encore Boy trialled very well last week. He’s still putting things together but he’s capable of scoring from the good gate. #1 Super Hoppy won nicely at his first start for Danny Shum last month. Zac Purton sticks solid and he looms as a major threat. #4 Storm Signal has a better draw here and should be around the mark. #7 Gamechangers has his first start since March. He was going the right way then and he should benefit from the time between races.
HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB PREDICTIONS:
RACE 1: #2 My Blessing, #1 Aeroluminance, #4 Penzance, #3 Sweet Bean
RACE 2: #3 Photon Willie, #2 Go Go Win, #1 Heroic Guru, #5 Kiram
RACE 3: #8 Noble Delight, #6 Junzi, #3 Split Of A Second, #11 Formula Galore
RACE 4: #5 Buoyant Boy, #9 Thou Shall Sing, #12 Master Viking, #2 Flying Monkey
RACE 5: #6 High Five, #1 Starlight, #3 Fantastic Feeling, #7 Zero Hedge
RACE 6: #8 Silverfield, #9 Har Har Heart, #12 Mr Picasso, #5 Thunder Stomp
RACE 7: #3 Hot King Prawn, #1 Archippus, #8 Solomon’s Bay, #5 Super Fluke
RACE 8: #8 Encore Boy, #1 Super Hoppy, #4 Storm Signal, #7 Gamechangers
HKJC PRESENTER SELECTIONS:
Best bet: R8 8 Encore Boy
Longshot: R2 7 Spinning Dancer
Best play: R2 Q/Qp 2,3,7
Best bet: R6 9 Har Har Heart
Longshot: R3 1 All My Gain
Best play R3 Q/Qp 1,3,8
Andrew le Jeune:
Best bet: R4 9 Thou Shall Sing
Longshot: R2 4 Wah May Baby
Best play: R4 Q/Qp 2,9,10