HAPPY Valley racetrack bounces back into the limelight this afternoon, after a week’s rest due to renovation.
Hong Kong never does anything by halves, and you can anticipate there will be plenty of expats - notably from the Irish community - hitting the beer garden when the Valley hosts the first of two St Patrick’s Day Wednesday parties in March.
Now St Patrick’s Day may not officially fall until Saturday March 17th, but that’s never stopped HK getting the party started early.
With plenty of on-track entertainment, live music, and most importantly of all, ‘the black stuff’ (Guinness) available throughout the evening, you can guarantee the atmosphere will be, to put it mildly, happy!
The go-to-masters of the turf, jockeys Joao Moreira and Zac Purton, are in action at the inner-city circuit, and hopefully can prove the cause of numerous celebrations with racing fans throughout the day.
These two jockeys have ridden 148 winners between them this season, with the ‘Magic Man’ Moreira leading by 10.
Purton still has a sniff of landing his second HK jockeys’ title, especially as Moreira is about to sit out another two-meeting enforced ban.
Purton however, is suffering another bout of seconditis. Indeed, his one winner last Sunday at Sha Tin had been preceded by four seconds, mostly by narrow margins.
The Australian wizard may have ridden 69 winners this season, but he has also recorded 66 seconds.
You can guarantee he would have been like a bear with a sore head on Sunday evening, and will be coming out at the Valley with all guns blazing to erase Sunday’s annoying memory.
He rides several fancied contenders, but his best chance of success could be when he climbs aboard the Michael Freedman-trained FORTUNE BOOTH (1.45pm).
This flashy-looking chestnut four-year-old hasn’t had much luck since winning on his debut back in October. In four runs since, he has either been beaten by a wide draw or endured no luck in running. In fact, at the end of January over this track-and- trip, he might as well have stayed in his stable. Taken back to the rear from an outside draw by Purton, he never saw daylight down the home stretch, and finished with a tankful of petrol.
This is a horse who is much better than Class 3, and he finally gets a draw which should see him enjoy a trouble-free journey. In a competitive handicap, he rates a good value-for-money proposition.
Moreira can never be left out of the equation, though. He again teams up with champion trainer John Size and looks set for another successful after- noon.
The Moreira-Size duo have successfully combined 34 times this season for a staggering 33 per cent win rate.
The pair should strike early in the afternoon, with talented and progressive Ivictory. The four-year-old is seeking his sixth win in seven runs but is certain to start at prohibitive odds.
Better value could be found following the fast-improving HAR HAR HEART (1.15pm) who bids to follow up last month’s impressive track-and-trip victory over an extended mile. A 9lb penalty may look tough on paper, but this is a horse who still looks well in front of the handicapper.
Har Har Heart 1.15pm Happy Valley
Fortune Booth 1.45pm Happy Valley