HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS (Wednesday, May 20, 2020)
Racing returns to Happy Valley for a nine-race programme on Wednesday, and after Sunday’s 10-race card at Sha Tin, the Magic Man Joao Moreira has levelled up with Zac Purton in the battle for the jockeys’ premiership.
Moreira outscored Purton three to one on the day, saluting aboard Sky Gem, Picken and Inner Flame, while the Australian’s sole win on Classic Posh means they head into Wednesday night’s Happy Valley card on 117 wins apiece for the term.
Both riders – as well as the Mauritian Magician Karis Teetan – boast a full book of rides on Wednesday night, and both have their share of top winning hopes. We turn to Purton to boot home the best bet on the card, Ares, in the Class 4 1200m in Race 5.
Ares has done all his racing at the city track under Purton thus far, and was a smart winner at his second time of asking in late February after a fair effort on debut. The three-year-old then jumped a loose $4 favourite third-up and ran a huge race into second after little luck in running.
Jumping from barrier 6 that night, Purton was unable to find a position in running and sat three-to-four wide throughout – sometimes with some cover – but nonetheless endured a tougher-than-some trip. To his credit, and it’s probably associated with the softish sectionals the race was run at, Ares let down well to check home into second, beaten 1 ¼ lengths.
Ares races first-up off a 63-day break this week, has trialled very well for his return and in the words of the late and great Pittsburgh Phil: A good jockey, a good horse, a good bet.
Video Replay Stars
Race 1 Number 2 HAPPY GOOD GUYS
Was an impressive winner here three starts ago, drawing clear by 1 1/4 lengths over up-and-comer Ares (who is hard to beat later on the card in Race 5), before racing without much luck at two subsequent starts.
Two starts ago, he raced tight over concluding stages in the straight and wasn’t properly tested, finishing 1 1/4 lengths into fourth, before completely bombing the start most recently as favourite when rearing and never really in it from there. He remains well drawn in barrier 2, has Moreira in the saddle and with a bit of luck looks the one to beat.
Race 8 Number 2 GOLDEN DASH
Looks on track to score a fourth career win after two promising runs back from a lengthy spell. First-up he checked home a sound second, before doing a lot of early work from barrier 12 at his second-up run, sitting second in running before fading late in the piece off a hectic early tempo where they clocked 8 lengths over par to the 400m.
Coming into barrier 1 this week should ensure a far more economical run in transit, crucial over the sprint trips at Happy Valley and on the C+3 course. And with Purton replacing Poon in the saddle, that can also be considered a big tick.
Sectional Time Stars
Race 3 Number 10 SEIZE THE SPIRIT
Returned the 4th fastest last 400m in his race at this track and distance 21 days ago, which had good merit to it given the jockey appeared in a state of confusion as to whether to shift in or out at the 300m, from where he was briefly held up before doing his best work inside the final 150m, checking home for a better-than-it-reads fourth. Vincent Ho takes over the reins from Victor Wong this week.
Race 4 Number 2 EXPLOSIVE WITNESS
Still a maiden after seven starts but he returns to Happy Valley’s 1000m, where his best form currently stands with three thirds from five starts. And based on his fast finishing efforts in three prior runs here, he appears capable of surprising in the small field of nine.
Luke Middlebrook’s Selections:
R1 #2 Win
R5 #1 Win
R8 #2 Win
Race 1: Happy Good Guys had excuses last start, rearing at the start as favourite and never in it. Forget the run and go on previous form (read “Track Spy” for more information). Management Supreme showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight at odds. Looks an improving type and keep safe. Goodluck Goodluck drops down in grade and start following, more than capable of winning here if he shows up. Gintoki big jockey change and expect improvement. Remains unplaced but is well rated now and has place claims. Farm Bumper racing well with good sectional time rankings recently, good chance.
Race 2: Dionysus Collin still a maiden galloper but gets his chance to win with Purton taking the ride. Open race, but he’s hard to knock on recent efforts. Salto Olimpico showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight, will do the same and gets every chance with Moreira jumping on. Party Together go on solid previous efforts where form looked okay. He drifted hard in the market last start, so keep an eye on his price here. Perfect To Play last start winner who retains good form and can run well again from a low draw. Shadow Breaker good effort last start leading all the way to win.
Race 3: Focus a fast beginner who can run well if he finds an easy lead, and that looks likely from barrier 3. Good chance to make all. Lightning Steed faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape, and Moreira sticks with. Amazing Luck placed last start and looks a chance to run well again, especially as he is reacquainted with Purton. Blooming Spirit racing consistently of late and expect another big run, one of the top hopes. Seize The Spirit has shown ability and can surprise at odds, likeable jockey booking with Vincent Ho in the saddle (read “Track Spy” for more information).
Race 4: Be Ready is an improving type who is nearing a win, meets some of the same competitors as last start and appears to map the better of some, who have drawn further out. Flying Genius consistent performer of late and worth considering, looks the other likely winner but may be forced to work a tad hard early from his draw. Explosive Witness strong trainer and jockey combination, capable of surprising (read “Track Spy” for more information). Allied Agility last start winner who retains good form and can run well again, but the map looks a query. Classic Unicorn dangerous frontrunner who can be hard to catch, will give a good sight.
Race 5: Ares holding form with recent good trial and looks well. He settled too far back last start, contrary to his win prior, and should be landing back in the winner’s circle here. Lucky Quality improving type and getting close to a win, maps to get his chance from a low draw on the C+3 course. Monkey Jewellery has been placed last two starts and deserves a win soon, bear in mind for exotics. Harmony N Home remains a maiden galloper but gets a chance to win here, however a wide barrier will make things tough. Amazing flew home late last start and must be respected, likely to do the same from out wide.
Race 6: Simply Fluke changed stables recently and has improved, stringing together two impressive wins. Has to do it again from an outer alley, so needs ample luck. Jade Phoenix failed last start when favourite but give another shout here from a low draw and with blinkers reapplied. Interstellar has improved since the blinkers were added last start, will bid to make all from barrier 2. Flying Bonus faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape, well rated here. Destine Jewellery had betting support last start and where there is smoke there is fire.
Race 7: Magnificent good effort when narrowly beaten last start, when doing a lot of hard work early from a wide draw. Comes into barrier 3, should find the lead easier, and can prove hard to run down. Farshad showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight, another one to be up on the pace and thereabouts. Green Reign remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here after some encouraging runs. Nordic Warrior generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home; if the pace is on, he’ll be well suited to swamp late. Chairman Lo form is good and must be rated a chance.
Race 9: Amazing Star talented sprinter resuming who trialled well recently and looks hardest to beat. The C+3 course is highly conducive to his racing pattern. Larson rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up; nice 3yo on the up and one to follow. This Is Class racing in career-best form and must be rated a top chance, though the speed map looks tricky for him, jumping from barrier 11. Shining Ace consistent form lately and can score here, could be a knockout chance from barrier 4. Shining Gem was an easy last start winner and must be respected, good favours from barrier 3.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
RIDING HIGH TOGETHER FOR A BETTER FUTURE