The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s selections and race-by-race previews for the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday 13 February.
RACE 1: #7 Frustrated, #1 E Master, #9 Super Fun, #2 Look Eras
RACE 2: #9 Cash Courier, #6 Lucky Storm, #2 Rookie Star, #5 Triumphal Win
RACE 3: #7 Dollar Reward, #10 Gracious Ryder, #1 All Best Friends, #3 Very Rich Man
RACE 4: #7 Happy Warrior, #10 Great Joy, #8 Little Island, #1 Acclaimed Light
RACE 5: #3 Happy Dragon, #2 Harmony Hero, #9 Cheerful Boy, #12 You Have My Word
RACE 6: #2 Wishful Thinker, #6 Super Hoppy, #1 Born In China, #5 Super Turbo
RACE 7: #3 Rise High, #1 Citron Spirit, #2 Insayshable, #7 Litterateur
RACE 8: #4 Nicconi Express, #3 Good Omen, #2 Epic, #8 Rickfield
RACE 9: #3 Music Addition, #5 Tornado Twist, #2 Starlight, #6 Water Diviner
RACE 1: TSUI MAN HANDICAP
#7 Frustrated is on debut here. The eye-catching black gelding, from the family of top Australian filly Sunlight, has trialled well both in Australia and here in Hong Kong and, even with gate 11, he can impress at start one. #1 E Master has been racing consistently this season. He returns after a couple of months on the sidelines and he looks primed for a big performance here, even stepping back to the 1000m. #9 Super Fun creates interest dropping back in trip. He’s having his first run for Dennis Yip and he can show up without surprising. #2 Look Eras will be out on the speed. He can stick around for some minor money.
RACE 2: YUK SAU HANDICAP
#9 Cash Courier won on the final day of last season to finally gain a second Hong Kong victory. He has only raced once this season, sticking on fairly to finish sixth first-up over 1400m. The Happy Valley 1650m is far more suitable and he can improve significantly second-up. #6 Lucky Storm will likely be out on the speed. He struggles to finish his races off but, if Dylan Mo can rate him appropriately, he might be able to hold them all off. #2 Rookie Star is racing well and can finish around the mark yet again. #5 Triumphal Win gets Zac Purton aboard for the first time. His last three course and distance runs have been good enough, but gate 11 makes it a tough ask.
RACE 3: VILLAGE HANDICAP
#7 Dollar Reward remains a Hong Kong maiden through 24 starts. He almost gained that elusive breakthrough last time out, finishing second by a nose to Navas, and it won’t take much for him to be able to score in this spot. #10 Gracious Ryder is another coming off a narrow second last time out. He’s a course and distance winner and he should enjoy every chance from gate three. #1 All Best Friends drops back to Class 4, a grade where he is unbeaten from one start. He has to be respected in this spot. #3 Very Rich Man returned to form last time out and can run another bold race.
RACE 4: YIK YAM HANDICAP
#7 Happy Warrior has looked a likely winner in recent starts but things haven’t quite gone his way. He needs just a hint of luck to be able to get into the finish. #10 Great Joy remains one of the unluckiest horses in training in Hong Kong. Hopefully, Matthew Poon can have him midfield before producing him at the right time to get into the finish. #8 Little Island should have ever chance in here and he remains a contender. #1 Acclaimed Light drops to Class 4 and he can’t be overlooked.
RACE 5: SING WOO HANDICAP
#3 Happy Dragon won nicely two starts back, pulling away for a three-length triumph, before he ended up too far out of his ground last start. Zac Purton should be able to lay up closer from gate five and that gives him a chance to score another victory. #2 Harmony Hero has been nothing short of disappointing this season and has gone from serious classic contender to also-ran in four short runs. Perhaps Happy Valley, along with the blinkers being applied once more, can spark him up. #9 Cheerful Boy is one of only two sons of Road To Rock in Hong Kong – the other is Beauty Generation. He has never won here at Happy Valley but he’s always dangerous when allowed a loose lead. That could easily happen here. #12 You Have My Word is up in grade but he has no weight and he could finish in the placings.
RACE 6: THE HAPPY VALLEY TROPHY
#2 Wishful Thinker has one of the fastest final sectionals of any horse in Hong Kong. He was far from disgraced in a small field in the G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy over the straight 1000m when he didn’t have a clear run for much of the final 300m. Back to the 1200m in a race full of speed, he can finish over the top. #6 Super Hoppy steps up in class but also gets a nice weight break. He looms as a contender. #1 Born In China must shoulder 133 pounds, but all four of his Hong Kong wins have come at this course and distance and he deserves respect. #5 Super Turbo needs luck but he’s not without a hope.
RACE 7: SHAN KWONG HANDICAP
#3 Rise High went ahead in leaps and bounds towards the end of last season, but he didn’t seem the same horse in two early-season efforts. He has spent some time at Conghua and he has looked revitalised for the experience. If he can return anywhere near his peak, he’s the one to beat. #1 Citron Spirit ran a bold race behind Simply Brilliant in the G3 January Cup over the 1800m here at Happy Valley last month. He’s back up in the weights again but there’s no reason he can’t figure. #2 Insayshable was third in the January Cup. He has a slightly awkward draw but he’s in the mix. #7 Litterateur has seemingly put his quirky days behind him. He’s an interesting contender in here.
RACE 8: KING KWONG HANDICAP
#4 Nicconi Express simply found 1800m a bridge too far last time out. He should get a soft run from gate one coming back in trip and he can atone here. #3 Good Omen is racing well this season and he deserves respect once again back out to this trip. #2 Epic ran a nice race at his Hong Kong debut for fifth to Good Standing. He might become a late Hong Kong Derby contender with a good run here, but it will be a test for him with plenty of weight to carry and gate 12 to overcome. #8 Rickfield might just get the setup he needs to prove a factor here.
RACE 9: BLUE POOL HANDICAP
#3 Music Addition arrived in Hong Kong with big wraps, particularly from his former trainer Peter Robl, and he lived up to the hype with a runaway victory last time out. This is tougher and he has to carry more weight, but he should be somewhere near the lead from the inside barrier and he shapes as the one to beat. Without question, the main danger is #5 Tornado Twist. He’s been a typical John Size project in that he has improved with every start. Size has found a good race for him to continue his progression and he will be finishing strongly. #2 Starlight is suited in these extended-band handicaps. He’ll be somewhere around the mark. #6 Water Diviner returns after almost a year on the sidelines. He has looked good in his trials and he deserves respect.