BANK on the Danny Shum-trained UP AND UP to prove much better than his present handicap mark when he lines up in the Hung Luen Handicap (2.45pm) over the extended mile.
This former UK galloper, known as Ikhtiraaq when trained by Owen Burrows, and subsequently Sir Michael Stoute, was a winner over seven furlongs and twice at a mile before arriving in his new surroundings in September of last year.
Lightly-raced with just three runs in his first season, he did show plenty of ability over the course and distance on his debut last April, finishing a close-up fourth – beaten just a length – and is now 10 pounds better off in the handicap.
A couple of subsequent efforts over nine furlongs showed that he still had plenty to learn, but were nevertheless encouraging, especially against smart middle-distance performers Meaningful Star and Hameron.
Having impressed track work watchers in the lead up to this contest, and also when running an eye-catching recent trial, it will be disappointing if he doesn’t leave his present handicap mark firmly behind him.
Trainer Danny Shum, who started the season with a winning treble at Sha Tin, will also be expecting progressive handicapper Helene Feeling to go close in the Victoria Harbour Handicap (3.50pm) over the extended mile.
Despite looking inexperienced in all five runs last season, the son of Sioux Nation still managed to win twice and place three times, and is guaranteed to improve further.
With plenty of battle-hardened gallopers in opposition, this looks a tough race to call, but the Karis Teetan-ridden three-year-old could still be a few points in front of the handicapper.
Up And Up 2.45pm Happy Valley