Hong Kong horse racing betting tips: All aboard the Poon Train to Paddington

 
Wally Pyrah
Happy Valley Races
Matthew Poon has ridden eight winners at Happy Valley so far this season (Source: Getty)

A distinctly chilly feel has enveloped Hong Kong over the last week.

The official Hong Kong Weather Observatory has issued various warnings to its locals to wrap up warmly with temperatures dipping to around 12 degrees.

Laughable when you think what we have been suffering here in the UK, but to be fair to the locals in Hong Kong, with humidity around 75 per cent, it does feel like several degrees lower.

With Happy Valley hosting its final meeting before the festive day on Sunday, you can guarantee there will be plenty of Father Christmas outfits on display in the famous ‘Beer Garden’.

The locals and ex-pats love nothing more than an excuse to dress up in silly reindeer hats and penguin costumes, and pose for photos while shaking jingle bells to the sound of Christmas carols.

With a pop band blasting out songs between races, it’s a certainty they will be singing the Mariah Carey Christmas classic ‘All I Want for Christmas’, with many thousands of racing fans and betting enthusiasts changing the next line to ‘is a winner’.

You would have hoped the Hong Kong Jockey Club would have produced a punter-friendly card where gamblers had a good chance of winning the turkey money and paying for all the presents over the holiday period.

Unfortunately, that is not the case and this looks a fiendishly difficult eight-race puzzle to solve, starting at 11.15am.

The ‘C+3’ course is the tightest of the seven tracks raced on at Happy Valley, with the width no more than the length of a cricket pitch - 21.325 yards to be exact.

This obviously gives horses with low draw numbers a distinct advantage, providing they are quick away.

Statistics over the last three seasons bear this fact out.

Horses drawn in stall one in six-fur-long races have a 31 per cent win strike-rate, and a 40 per cent strike-rate for finishing in the first two.

That’s something to bear in mind when selecting your horses in sprints. It’s also hard to get away from the fact that when trainer Caspar Fownes unleashes his heavy artillery at the Valley, punters should take note.

The popular Australian handler saddles a handful of contenders, and it’s very rare that he leaves the inner-city track empty handed.

Looking at his record this season, he has saddled a dozen winners from just under 100 runners, with another 20 stablemates making the frame.

Race four (12.45pm) is a six-furlong sprint, and Fownes will be hoping his quirky but talented Cheerfuljet is capable of defying an 8lb penalty after his ‘head in chest’ victory over the track and trip three weeks back.

Starting from stall three is a positive, and with Zac Purton aboard he is going to be hard to beat.

His odds, however, will be reflective of his chances, and I would rather take a chance on bottom-weight PADDINGTON, who is equipped with blinkers for the first time.

It’s fair to say that the four-year-old has been disappointing so far in Hong Kong, but his latest effort offered a glimmer of hope.

I know trainer Chris So has always held a high opinion of this gelding, and with the prime inside draw of stall one a major plus, and smart 7lb claimer Matthew Poon in the saddle, he is going to offer a value-for-money proposition.

POINTERS

Paddington 12.45pm Happy Valley

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