HOPEFULLY the on-going political unrest in Hong Kong, which caused the cancellation of racing at Happy Valley last week, doesn’t disrupt things at the inner-city track today.
Racing takes place on the infamous ‘C+3’ course, which is the narrowest of the seven tracks raced on at the Valley.
With the track measuring just under 20 metres in width from rail to rail, there is just enough room to get the starting stalls across the track.
This means it’s a very tough task for horses who tend to come from off the pace as it’s virtually impossible to find an uninterrupted passage down the home straight.
Statistics show horses drawn high over both six furlongs and the extended mile have dismal records over the last three seasons.
Conversely, horses drawn low fare much better judged on past results and in races over five furlongs, the inside numbers are the best places to be.
The old adage of ‘when the cat’s away the mice will play’ springs to mind following an examination of the race-card.
Change the word from mice to mouse and jockey Zac Purton finds himself the centre of attention, while his great rival and current leading rider Joao Moreira is on the side-lines, serving a two-meeting ban for careless riding.
The reigning champion Purton has his card marked in all nine races and following a treble on Sunday, he will be confident of making further inroads into Moreira’s lead of seven winners.
The likes of Bundle Of Energy in the opening Aster Handicap (10.45am) and Amazing Star, impressive in recent trials, in the Dandelion Handicap (11.45am) both have leading chances, while Purton takes over from Moreira on the consistent Flame Lily in the Hibiscus Handicap (12.50pm).
The Zac-Man will also fancy his chances on speedsters Yee Cheong Baby, who returns to his optimum trip, in the five-furlong Hydrangea Handicap (1.50pm) and top-weight Lone Eagle, who is close to finding the winning formula, in the closing Waratah Handicap (2.55pm) over six furlongs.
However, Purton’s best hopes could rest with STARLIT KNIGHT, who is a confident choice despite the competitive nature of the Hibiscus Handicap (12.20pm), over the extended mile.
This tough old campaigner, who is back to near his last winning rating, has found life tough in his three runs this season, but has performed much better than his finishing positions suggest.
In all three races, he has been ridden by inexperienced claimers who have gone off too fast from the start and left him with no petrol in the tank in the latter stages of the contests.
With Purton taking over, victorious with the galloper before, and racing from an inside draw, expect no mistakes this time.
The gods of fortune have certainly smiled on PERFECT GLORY and Purton when they line-up in the Australian Turf Club Trophy (1.20pm) over six furlongs.
Last week, the partnership was due to run from stall 11, before the meeting was cancelled.
This time, with a drop down in class, a favourable-looking mark and most importantly an inside rail draw, he is mapped to get the ideal journey from the off and then make his charge for victory down the home straight.
Starlit Knight 12.20pm Happy Valley
Perfect Glory 1.20pm Happy Valley