Hong Kong horse racing betting tips: All aboard the Poon Train at Happy Valley

 
Bill Esdaile
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Hong Kong International Jockey's Championship Races
Located in the centre of Hong Kong, Happy Valley is one of the most exciting racecourses in the world (Source: Getty)

WELCOME to Happy Valley, one of the most exciting racecourses in the world.

Located in the centre of Hong Kong, the inner city track is a tight circular shape – think Chester but smaller – and produces numerous photo finish results.

Because the track is so sharp only a maximum of 12 horses can line-up for each race. The barrier numbers (draw) play a big part in the results, with low numbers having an obvious advantage.

It doesn’t mean that horses with a high draw can’t win, but make sure you have a good jockey aboard your selection if it has a high number.

Hopefully in the future we can point you in the direction of a few winners at this unique track and give various insights of how to make your racing pay.

Read more: Hong Kong horse racing: Top jock Purton can prove he’s the Premium Champion

In Race 4 (1.45pm) over 1200m (or six furlongs – just divide the metres by two, for miles and furlongs), the valuable 10lb claiming allowance for apprentice Matthew Poon can be a big advantage when he climbs aboard GRACE HEART.

Poon, nicknamed the ‘Poon Train’ because he keeps rolling out winners, came through the Hong Kong Jockey Club Apprentice School and rode 117 winners in Australia.

In his first season in Hong Kong, he has already visited the winners’ circle 17 times from 96 rides (18% strike-rate) and is hugely popular with the local racegoers.

Grace Heart was caught in the closing stages over the track and trip a fortnight ago carrying 9st 7lbs and, with Poon now claiming his valuable 10lb allowance, he will be difficult to catch down the home stretch.

Obvious threats will come from the well-drawn Regency Honey, who bounced back to form when chasing home prolific winner Master Viking last time, and in-form Salsa Brothers, who was just behind Regency Honey last time after meeting interference.

Poon has another first-rate chance of success when he teams up again with top-weight GO GO WIN in Race 2 (12.45pm) over 1650m (just over a mile).

He was aboard when the selection finished runner-up over course and distance last week from the outside draw.

This time he will be positioned to sit just behind the pace-makers and then make his dash for glory down the short home stretch.

Irish jockey Neil Callan – who relocated to Hong Kong and is now proving a big success with 45 winners already this season – rides number seven Daring Heart.

This improving three-year-old suffered a tough run when dashing late behind Raging Bull over course and distance earlier in the month and looks guaranteed to improve on that run. He rates the likely danger.

Keep an eye on Fine With Me, a previous winner over six furlongs who could improve further with the step up in distance.

There is hardly a race meeting that goes by in Hong Kong without success for one of the greatest jockeys in the world, Joao Moreira.

‘The Magic Man’, twice champion jockey and already well on his way to a third title, having ridden a record number of 166 winners this season, partners well-drawn number eight CLEVER SPIRIT in Race 3 (1.15pm).

The combination scored an overdue success when stepping up in distance for the first time a fortnight ago and can defy a small penalty.

Last time out winner Polymer Luck is the obvious threat. He should get a favoured soft lead and could be hard to catch.

Click here: for all of the latest news, views, results and more from the world-class racing scene in Hong Kong

POINTERS TODAY

Go Go Win (win) 12.45pm Happy Valley

Clever Spirit (win) 1.15pm Happy Valley

Grace Heart (win/place) 1.45pm Happy Valley

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