LUCK and lucky are two of the most important words in the culture of Hong Kong, especially in the world of horse racing.
When thousands of local racing enthusiasts and bettors pour into the city’s two race-tracks at Happy Valley or Sha Tin, you can guarantee a large percentage of them will make their first port of call one of the HKJC gift shops.
Why? The majority of merchandise on offer has a luck theme, be it lucky key-rings, pens, bracelets, socks and ‘Good luck’ Red Packets to put dollars in.
Most locals believe luck is the most important factor when it comes to leaving the race-track with bundles of dollars in their back-pocket, or handbag.
Woe betide if any of the 23 registered trainers or 26 HK based jockeys go on a losing run. There is no hiding place. They are shunned by the public, have discontented owners, and are hammered by the local media.
Take trainer David Hall for instance. The Australian handler, who saddled legendry Makybe Diva to win the Melbourne Cup, has been one of the most consistent trainers in HK over the last 13 years. This season however, the gods of fortune have turned their backs…. and forgotten him!
He has saddled 135 consecutive losers since his last winner back in October. He’s had around 25 placed horses – plenty of those horses beaten in photos – but no luck.
He has a handful of horses entered at Happy Valley this afternoon, some with good chances, but would you support them?
At the other end of the spectrum, nine-time champion trainer John Size can’t stop visiting the winners circle. ‘The Master’ trainer has saddled 17 winners from his last 60 runners, an impressive 28 per cent win rate.
He saddles three runners at Happy Valley, and all of them can be given first-rate chances. Last start winner Prawn Baba lines up in the feature
Class 2 event, and has an obvious chance, but of more interest could be Size’s other two runners, who look value for money plays.
The enigmatic KING BOUNTIFUL (11.45am) runs over 1m3f, a distance which is considered a marathon in HK. The speed, tempo or pace of these races is normally slow, then even slower, and suddenly a sprint over the last two furlongs.
The form-book can mostly be thrown out of the window, and it’s normally the jockey who reacts quickest to the situation during the contest, who takes the spoils.
Genial and popular ex-French jockey Olivier Doleuze teams up with King Bountiful, a gelding who may be unpredictable, but has already won three times over the track and trip and been successful from his present rating.
John Size and Doleuze later combine again with top-weight BIG BANG BONG (2.50pm) over the extended mile, and he looks to have been ear-marked for this contest.
You can ignore the form of his last two races, both on dirt, and now subsequently down in class after being dropped 4lbs in the ratings.
This track and trip winner had previously finished second in a Class 2 event from a 5lb higher mark, and a reproduction of that form would be good enough here.
King Bountiful e/w 11.45am Happy Valley
Big Bang Bong 2.50pm Happy Valley