Hong Kong racing expert Wally Pyrah previews today’s card at Happy Valley
HORSE racing should be a simple sport. The best horse goes from A to B and wins. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that easy.
Take the Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar over the weekend for example.
The ultra-sharp racecourse and track bias counted against numerous short-priced favourites, who couldn’t cope with negative draws and sharp bends. Without getting too technical, racing fans should take heed of a notable change at Happy Valley in Hong Kong this afternoon.
Last week, the track was sewn with winter grass which historically changes how races are run at the inner-city track. Normally, races at the Valley favour horses that are up near the front from the off.
But when the winter grass goes down, it gives an advantage to horses that come from off the pace, and dash down the middle of the home stretch.
Trainer Tony Cruz could be the man to follow this afternoon. The legendary and iconic 60-year-old has done it all in horse racing.
Older racegoers may remember him being number one jockey to the Aga Khan back in the 1970s and also partnering the great mare Triptych to numerous Group One victories in Europe.
In Hong Kong, he has been a six-time champion jockey, won the trainers title twice, and also handled the greatest horse in HK turf history, Silent Witness, winner of 17 consecutive races.
No wonder he is revered by both the racing public and his rivals.
He saddles the talented but unpredictable MULTIGOGO (12.15pm) who has had numerous chances according to the form book, but is still looking for his first win.
Don’t worry, this is his best chance to finally shine. Last time, when rid-den by an inexperienced claimer, he missed the start and was always playing catch-up during the race.
He nonetheless put in a great effort, finishing strongly to be beaten just a neck in third place.
The booking of Aussie pilot Sam Clipperton and a positive draw number are a big bonus and, in a moderate looking contest, he should prove hard to beat.
Cruz could be back in the winner’s circle again, when he saddles fast-improving MISTER MONTE (12.45pm).
This Australian import started his career in HK with a high rating of 71. It took him all of last season to acclimatise, with the result that after five runs, his rating dropped 10lbs.
On his seasonal reappearance over the course and distance last month, he ran a blinder finishing a close-up fifth after being three-wide for most of the journey.
Surprisingly the handicapper down-graded him a further 2lbs which means he has dropped in class too. From an ideal draw, he is set for a dream journey, and must go close.
In the same race, keep an eye on WINASWEWISH who has raced four times already this season with the purpose of getting him into peak condition.
His latest effort was encouraging, and he now races off a 1lb lower mark from his last winning rating.
Finally, Cruz could complete a hat-trick when his horse CALIFORNIA JOY (1.45pm) is offered a gilt-edged opportunity to prove too classy for his rivals over the extended mile trip.
He’s been dropped down to Class 3 company for this race having failed to land a blow at a higher level this season and could take full advantage.
Multigogo 12.15pm Happy Valley
Mister Monte 12.45pm Happy Valley
Winaswewish e/w 12.45pm Happy Valley
California Joy 1.45pm Happy Valley