RACING returns to Sha Tin’s all-weather track for the final time this season and conditions in Hong Kong suggest it may be for the best.
While the UK population have swapped their sun cream for umbrellas for the foreseeable future, the weather in Hong Kong has been even worse.
The territory, renowned for constant sunshine and high humidity, hasn’t had more than two consecutive days of sun in the past six weeks, with unremitting rain and thunderstorms.
The official weather forecast for this afternoon is showers with squally thunderstorms, which will make it tough for bettors who are used to studying form on either good or fast ground.
It was a similar scenario at the last all-weather meeting a month ago, when rain turned the dirt track into a bit of a bog.
Normally horses with fast starts and low draw numbers have a big advantage on dirt but on that occasion, winners were coming from all over the track.
One trainer who will be hoping the gods of fortune continue to smile on him is John Moore.
After saddling four winners at Sha Tin last Saturday, he is now only a handful of victories behind current champion John Size in his quest to gain his eighth trainers’ title.
Moore, responsible for giving jockey Zac Purton his 1000th winner in HK when saddling Thanks Forever to victory on Saturday, has booked the champion to partner his two stand-out hopes, TOUCH OF LUCK in the 12.45pm and Buddies in the 3.50pm.
Touch Of Luck, who confirmed earlier promise with a clear-cut win over a mile last month, makes his first appearance on dirt from an inside draw over the extended mile trip.
This flashy looking four-year-old, whose sire Hard Spun won a Group One on dirt in the US, travelled particularly well on a sloppy surface in a trial back in April.
He is clearly progressive and is capable of defying a 6lb penalty against mainly ordinary opposition.
In the same race, keep an eye on Good Fit who drops down in class after some below-par efforts recently. He is a seven-time winner in this company, all on this surface, and could make the frame at attractive odds.
Moore and Purton also team up with hat-trick seeking Buddies, who lines up in the finale at 3.50pm over the extended mile.
This son of So You Think steps up in class after making light work of the opposition in his two wins, including once over course and distance in similar conditions, last month.
He is surely better than his present handicap mark, but will need to overcome the dreaded outside draw and his odds are going to be short.
This looks a highly-competitive handicap and it could be worth taking a chance with the Frankie Lor-trained KINGS SHIELD who finally makes his first appearance on dirt.
This former UK galloper, who was trained by John Gosden, was a dual winner on the all-weather surface at Kempton and Newcastle.
Other notable efforts included a sixth in the French 2000 Guineas and a fifth in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He has taken some time to acclimatise to conditions in Hong Kong, but his latest effort was encouraging and he has now dropped to an attractive mark in the handicap.
Touch Of Luck 12.45pm Sha Tin
Kings Shield e/w 3.50pm Sha Tin