IT HAS been tough going for bettors in the opening week of racing action in Hong Kong. In three meetings – two 10-race cards at Sha Tin and an eight race one at Happy Valley – too many short-priced favourites have been sunk without trace, with 10 winners obliging at double-figure odds.
Even the local jockeys are currently holding sway, having ridden more winners than their celebrity overseas counterparts.
Young Vincent Ho, riding like a man possessed, heads the table with four successes, while Eddie Lai, who rode just a handful of winners from more than 300 mounts last season, has already struck twice.
The punters go-to jockey, reigning champion Zac Purton, has had a frustrating bout of seconditis, with three wins, but nine seconds in 24 rides, causing his fanatical band of supporters to be pulling their hair out.
Maybe this is because there has been so much rain about in the region for the past month, with easier ground conditions having contributed to some surprise results. It may take a couple of weeks before the formbook becomes more reliable.
Happy Valley hosts another highly competitive eight-race card this afternoon where finding winners, at least on paper, looks tricky.
The Purton fan club will be hoping their jockey swings back into winning form with a full book of rides on a track where he excels.
The Australian renews his partnership with Friends Of Ka Ying in the 1.15pm over the extended mile, the combination having raced at Sha Tin on Sunday when beaten in a photo.
On that form he has a massive chance, but it’s around two-and-a-half years since he last won, and his consistency – has been placed a dozen times – means the handicapper is refusing to give him any respite.
The safest option would appear to be top-weight Thunder Stomp who should improve on his encouraging seasonal opener last week. He has the inside draw and 10lb claimer Victor Wong board.
However, both Thunder Stomp and Friends Of Ka Ying will be desperate to dictate the tempo from the front, and while they are playing cat and mouse with one another, this may play into the hands of the well-drawn SUPER FORM.
He has trialled twice in preparation for this event and goes well fresh having won twice after a seasonal break.
With ‘Mauritian Magician’ Karis Teetan on a high after last Sunday’s winning treble, and trainer Tony Millard doing well, Super Form represents a value-for-money proposition.
Limitless will take centre-stage in the finale at 3.50pm over the extended mile, having ended last season’s campaign with a spectacular victory when running away from his opposition over the track and trip in July.
The 2016 Royal Ascot Britannia Handicap winner when trained by Jamie Osborne has not been the easiest horse to train in HK, and has let down his connections and supporters on numerous occasions.
His odds will reflect his undoubted ability, but can he be trusted? A more attractive alternative is three-time winner WINNING FAITH, who on the formbook is closely matched with Limitless, has top 5lb claimer Dylan Mo in the saddle, and produced an eye-catching trial recently.
Super Form e/w 1.15pm Happy Valley
Winning Faith e/w 3.50pm Happy Valley