THE OLD expression “strike while the iron’s hot” certainly relates to trainer Pierre Ng, who sends a raiding party of nine gallopers to Happy Valley for their nine-race programme today.
Ng, a second-season trainer, has been in scintillating form of late, saddling eight winners at the last three race meetings and has had 20 victories so far, striding six winners clear of his nearest pursuer in the trainers’ title table.
With the likes of Humble Star and Fortune Warrior in the Nakayama Handicap (11.10am) over five furlongs, Dragon Star in the Niigata Handicap (11.40am) over the extended mile, and last start winner Healthy Healthy in division two of the Kyoto Handicap (1.10pm) over six furlongs, his prospects are looking good for further success.
Ng will also be hoping his highly progressive four-year-old, Taj Dragon, can produce a repeat performance after winning at Sha Tin last month when he lines up in the Tokyo Handicap (1.45pm) over the extended mile with Zac Purton aboard.
This former UK-trained gelding has won three times in the territory and looks likely to improve further as the season progresses.
He is, however, stepping up in class and trip with his seven-pound penalty for last month’s win, and makes his race debut at the tricky turning circuit of Happy Valley.
With Purton in the saddle – who rode a treble for Ng at Sha Tin last Sunday – you can guarantee that his odds will be short, so it may be worth taking a chance against him with equally useful Danny Shum-trained HELENE FEELING.
This former two-time winner in the UK has already won twice over the course and distance, including an impressive win against similar company on his seasonal return in September.
He had excuses when only eighth in his most recent performance over nine furlongs at Sha Tin last month, having been caught wide after a slow start for the majority of the journey, but he still produced the second fastest closing sectional time in the contest.
With useful claimer Jerry Chau in the saddle, and the anticipated quick tempo likely to play to his strengths, he is capable of surprising the favourite.
Trainer Danny Shum will be hoping for a double on the card when he also saddles impressive last-start winner Chill Chibi in the Hanshin Handicap (2.50pm) over the extended mile.
The New Zealand-bred gelding produced an eye-catching performance when coming from last to first and winning over the course and distance at the beginning of the month.
With a nine-pound penalty, and now moving up in class to take on seasoned handicappers this is a tougher task, and he may fall short against equally promising and well-handicapped KARMA from the Caspar Fownes yard.
This son of Turn Me Loose has been crying out for a step up in distance, despite twice winning impressively over seven furlongs at Sha Tin and trialling well at the Valley back in June.
Helene Feeling 1.45pm Happy Valley
Karma 2.50pm Happy Valley