Luke Middlebrook – Racing returns to Sha Tin for a mixed turf and dirt 10-race card on Saturday – eight on the turf and two on the AWT.
And after a sensational night in the saddle on Wednesday, jockey Zac Purton now commands a four-win lead over Joao Moreira, on his way to a fourth champion jockey title.
The Australian rode a dazzling five-timer on the night and the final two months of the season look set to bring more fireworks throughout.
Moreira has a full book of rides to Purton’s seven on Saturday, with at least four of those likely to be the market elects.
Trainer Ricky Yiu extended his lead for a first Hong Kong trainers’ championship after a double on the night, the gap on his nearest rival Francis Lui now nine wins.
Back to Sha Tin…
The Danny Shum-trained Fantasy comes up as the best bet in the Class 3 1200m in Race 7. The four-year-old vies for a hat-trick of wins on Sunday and couldn’t have found a weaker race to do so.
Fantasy goes up against just a small field of nine with all but one – trainer Douglas Whyte’s last start winner Relentless Me – boasting local wins to their name. The rest, though lightly raced, need a big improvement to find the winner’s circle.
Fantasy should map well from barrier 4, somewhere just off the leaders in a one out position. The #2 and #8 are capable of leading while Relentless Me, who does have new 10lb apprentice Jerry Chau in the saddle, will likely try to push forward but generally doesn’t have the early toe to keep up.
In the Class 4 1650m (Race 6), Jade Fortune will get his chance to atone after a muddling occurrence as the gates crashed backed at this track and distance 20 days ago.
The stewards’ report reads like a war and peace novel from Race #585 that day, however the crux of it is that Purton lodged a complaint to the stewards regarding the start afforded to Jade Fortune. There was a major communication breakdown between Purton and the starter, which, in turn, resulted in the gates opening before Purton thought Jade Fortune was ready to jump.
Purton said the lead bag and girth became momentarily caught on the back gate and consequently became ill-positioned, resulting in Jade Fortune missing the start. Jade Fortune did, however, run a cracker into third and coming into barrier 4 this week, and provided a clean getaway, looks ready to win.
Video Replay Stars
Race 4 – 5 THE JOY OF GIVING
Resumes off a 62-day break and was last seen finishing 20 lengths into last of 14 after he stood in the barriers and was never in contention. Prior to that, he finished an eye-catching third over 1800m at this track at his second start back in Class 5, where his record is clearly proven.
The betting market will be a good guide here, as he clearly mixes his form, but in a wide-open contest, he is one who could surprise if to show up.
Race 5 – 11 INVALUABLE
Only a three-year-old who has been seen at seven starts so far, and has been knocking on the door based on recent runs. Most recently, he finished 2 1/4 lengths into fifth over 1650m at Happy Valley, but arguably should have been in the finish should he have obtained clear galloping room in the straight – which he didn’t, and went to the line untested over concluding stages.
He is trending in the right direction and is worth including in exotic plays here.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 3 – 2 DECISIVE TWELVE
His last start second placing, in which he ran home well in the second fastest last 400m of the race, had good merit to it as he bungled the start and lost a bit of ground as the $2.60 favourite. He has trialled well since that last start effort, and looks ready to score third-up to 1200m.
Race 6 – 11 PARTY EVERYDAY
Jumps from a horrible barrier in stall, however based on recent efforts, he has to be considered a live chance with even luck. The market has been all over him recently, yet he remains a maiden, but with Teetan replacing Purton this week, he will likely be overlooked to a degree and could prove to be great value.
Luke Middlebrook’s Selections:
R6 #2 Win
R7 #1 Win
Race 1: Xponential has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. It is a weak contest without many chances and from barrier 4, he maps to get every chance. Shining On well-placed and looks a chance in race like this, especially as Moreira jumps on. Hard Promise good performance when returning to form last start. Will jump, run and give them something to run down. Hinyuen Swiftness place chance at value in a race like this. Will be another who can give a good sight, particularly as the 10lb claim apprentice rides. Super Mission showed improvement at a recent trial and expect better.
Race 2: London Luckystar good effort when storming home only to be narrowly beaten last start. That run suggests a win is near and he looks hard to hold out. Clear Choice never far away from the winner and looks a leading hope with Purton in the saddle. Ping Hai Treasure go on solid previous efforts where form looked okay, big chance to improve here second-up. Handsome Bo Bo an on pace runner who could finish in the placings and expect a bold sight. Touch Of Luck faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape, place claims.
Race 3: Decisive Twelve holding form with a good recent trial after a flashing light run last start and can run well (read “Track Spy” for more information). Flying Bonus go on solid previous effort where form looked okay. Making Class 4 debut with Purton on and ticks the right boxes – big chance. Iluvataar newcomer who has trialled well for debut – respect the Moreira/Size combo. Gallant Legacy ran the third fastest sectional time last start and at the bottom of the weights, can surprise. Kelmimi Wins change of trainer recently and watch betting.
Race 4: Red Brick Fighter showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight but was simply used up early. Looks better suited here with Purton on and is the one to beat. Joy Master has ability and should not be underestimated in this grade, chance to show up here. Humble Steed last start winner who retains good form and can run well again, but it is Class 5. The Joy Of Giving resuming from a break and watch the betting (read “Track Spy” for more information). Blazing Partners has ability and is always dangerous in this grade, can definitely show up in a race like this, value chance.
Race 5: Gorgeous Inheritor showed big improvement at a recent trial wearing blinkers and looks an improver here. Purton remains on board after trialling him and goes close. Mcmunigal was an easy last start winner – albeit in Class 5 – and must be respected as he’s in career-best form. Perfect To Play fresh up from a break and should run well. Moreira/Fownes team up. Invaluable video replay showed last run was very good (read “Track Spy” for more information). Leading Fortune last start winner who retains good form and can run well again, appears to have upside.
Race 6: Jade Fortune racing well with good sectional time rankings recently and is knocking on the door. Comes into barrier 4 from 8 and looks to map ideally. Ka Ying Brilliance narrowly beaten last start – albeit in Class 5 – and goes close here. Low draw, low weight and in-form. This One’s For You flew home late last start and must be respected; however, needs luck from the a wide berth. So We Joy looks a solid good chance based on last start, which was his best run to date, follow. Party Everyday has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon (read “Track Spy” for more information).
Race 7: Fantasy highly promising horse who shows nice ability and looks the one to beat. Meets a hopelessly weak field and gets every chance to go on with it. Relentless Me last start winner who retains good form and can run well again – the logical danger in a race like this. Marvel Dragon best run to date was last start and appears to be improving, place is preferred but can surprise. California Levee place chance at value in a race like this, but struggling to find others to beat the favourites. Oriental Amigo fair trial ahead of debut, watch the betting.
Race 8: Hong Kong Win talented galloper who is resuming from a break and looks a good chance to score. Hit the line strongly in his trial and is going well. Drawn to get the run of the race. Stronger has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. Still a 3yo and has upside but is mixing his form. Loving A Boom looks a solid good chance based on last start, can surprise here if they go too quick. Multimillion should begin fast and will be trying to lead all the way, but may be vulnerable late. Gentle Breeze never far away from the winner and could sneak a place, 1000m specialist.
Race 9: Beauty Legacy good performance when returning to form last start, dropping back in distance and ridden where he’s comfortable. He should be landing back in the winner’s circle soon. Decrypt placed last start and looks a chance to run well again. Should still have more to come. Time To Celebrate solid effort last start and must be rated chance here. Looks to map ideally to suit his running style from a low draw. Arrogant has trialled well for debut and should be rated a chance, though will be better over further in time. Ballistic King last start winner who rises in class, can measure up.
Race 10: Farhh Above every chance last start but still ran a good race and keep following. He deserves once more chance based on prior wins. War Room changed stables recently and has improved, and with the 10lb claimer on board, he’ll be in it for a long while. Right Choice is back in good form and must be considered a chance; however, he again faces a wide draw. Beauty Rush showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight, will do the same and looks to have a top 3 hope. All In Mind faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape, barrier 5 should ensure the right trip.