NEIL CALLAN RIDES JUNZI IN RACE 1
Luke Middlebrook: All eyes will once again focus on the jockeys’ title race at Happy Valley’s nine-race programme on Wednesday.
After last week’s sensational five-timer at Happy Valley, Zac Purton entered Saturday’s Sha Tin card commanding a four-win lead over Joao Moreira. The Magic Man, however, was quick to hit back, and a treble at Sha Tin saw him claw back the margin to one as Purton fired blanks across the card.
The scores at the end of the day stood at 113-114, with 18 race meetings left. So, it looks as though a seesaw battle will playout for the remainder of the season, though with Moreira incurring a one-day careless riding suspension on Saturday – to be served later in the month – it could prove costly in retrospect.
Moreira boasts a full book of nine rides to Purton’s six on Wednesday, but Purton’s appear to have stronger winning chances, however Moreira isn’t known as the Magic Man for no reason.
We turn to Race 1 for a value each-way bet with the Chris So-trained Junzi in the Class 5 Handicap over 1200m. The seven-year-old is at his third start in the cellar grade and interestingly, has blinkers applied for the first time in his 35-start career.
Junzi is a horse who generally settles mid-field-to-worse and in his favour is a good amount of speed in this race to suit his pattern. Neil Callan replaces Alex Lai – which can also be considered a positive gear change – and his trial in blinkers was definitely a pass mark. With quite a few horses for whom it is hard to make a case, Junzi looks a good each-way shout.
Race 1 is off at 12.45 SA time and is the first leg of the BiPot.
Another appealing top-three hope is Namjong Sings in Race 6, the Class 3 Handicap over 1200m. Namjong Sings was hammered in the betting last time out over 1400m at Sha Tin, starting $9.90 after reaching a high of $22, 15 minutes from the off.
The four-year-old Australian import didn’t have much luck, however, as after being badly crowded at the jump and losing ground, he raced wide and at the rear thereafter. He comes into barrier No 3 on Wednesday night, and based on prior runs at this track and distance, he has claims to cause an upset in an open race.
Another runner who looks just about ready to win is former South African runner Cot Campbell who comes up in Race 9.
His last start sixth placing was better than it reads as he raced without luck in the straight, so you can put the pen through the run. He was badly held up for clear running from on straightening until passing the 200m, and again held up for a run approaching the 100m and was shifted out to obtain clear running over the concluding stages, so he arguably could have finished much closer than he did.
He is one to follow this week as he continues to slide down the handicap and should be finding the winner’s circle soon.