WITH just nine race-meetings remaining in Hong Kong this season, the battle for the jockeys’ title is still making all the headlines.
While suspended Joao Moreira was left sitting on his sofa watching the action from Sha Tin on Sunday, a flu-ridden Zac Purton stole the lead in the championship race to lead his rival by one.
With Purton desperate to wrest the championship from Moreira, and the ‘Magic Man’, with his impending departure to Japan on the horizon, wanting to leave HK in a blaze of glory, you can guarantee there will be plenty of tactical battles between the pair over the coming weeks.
Both are in action at Happy Valley this afternoon, and it would be a brave man to bet against them leaving the inner-city track empty-handed.
Potential superstar sprinter HOT KING PRAWN takes centre stage in the main event of the afternoon, the Class 2 £180,000 Wong Nai Chung Gap Handicap, over six furlongs at 3.15pm.
This striking grey three-year-old from Australia has won five of his six contests but races for the first time around the tight Valley circuit under floodlights.
With rain and potential thunderstorms circling the city, conditions could to be on the soft side of good, which could also raise doubts about his ability to handle the ground.
Still, he does look a Group performer in the making and from the inside draw it will be matter of blink and he will be gone, never seeing another rival.
An interesting sub-plot to the contest is that Purton is aboard the grey, who is trained by Moreira’s biggest supporter John Size.
Purton has only ridden 11 times for the champion trainer this season, winning four and it’s unlikely he will ride any more of the Master Trainer’s horses before the season end.
Purton will be hoping to finish the meeting on a high when he rides progressive last-start winner Super Hoppy in the 3.50pm over six furlongs.
The Danny Shum-trained four-year-old got up in the shadow of the post when winning over the track and trip last month, but picked up a 5lb penalty.
That may count against him giving weight to the equally impressive and speedy ENCORE BOY who produced an eye-catching trial recently, and will be hard to catch.
Hot King Prawn 3.15pm Happy Valley
Encore Boy 3.50pm Happy Valley