WITH sunny intervals forecast in Hong Kong today, it’s back to normal for racegoers visiting Happy Valley, following last week’s cancellation due to Typhoon Kompasu flooding the territory.
Leading jockey Zac Purton is guaranteed to arrive at the city track with a smile on his face following last Sunday’s four-timer at Sha Tin, which further extended his lead in the jockeys’ title race to eight over arch rival Joao Moreira.
The former three-time champion Purton has been riding on the crest of a wave, much to the delight of his thousands of supporters since the season started early last month.
With 21 winners to his name, an impressive 25 per cent win strike-rate, and having ridden a winner at 10 consecutive race-meetings, it’s safe to say the ‘Zac Man’ is in the form of his life.
With a nine-race programme at the Valley, Purton has his card marked in seven of the contests, and it would be a brave man to forecast he will leave the track empty handed.
Leading trainer David Hayes has booked Purton for three, and they will be looking to extend their already impressive partnership, having combined with six wins and four places from just 13 rides.
The combination team up with a couple of last start winners, Red Majesty, who lines up in the Flying Elite Handicap (1.45pm) over the extended mile, and Harmony N Blessed in the feature race, the Longines Cup (2.15pm) over five furlongs.
Progressive Red Majesty, a winner of four of his last five starts, will be a short-priced favourite to continue his improvement, but carries a six-pound penalty for a narrow victory over subsequent winner Savvy Kingdom last month.
The likes of All Joyful, Manna from Heaven, and All You Know, who have all finished behind Red Majesty, will fancy their chances at the revised ratings, while Sun Of Makfi, who missed a winning opportunity at the cancelled Happy Valley meeting last week, is an obvious threat despite an awkward draw.
Front-running Harmony N Blessed capitalised on an inside draw with a convincing victory over the course and distance last month, and it will be hard to stop him following-up in the Longines Cup Handicap.
He does, however, have a hefty eight-pound penalty and an outside draw to overcome, especially with the likes of Resolute, Harmony Fire and possibly Brilliant Fortune taking him on for the lead.
Purton’s best ride at the meeting is the fast-improving STORMTROUPER, who gets his chance to record his first win in the Tiger Prawn Handicap (2.45pm) over six furlongs.
This lightly-raced Australian import and son of UK champion Toronado has taken some time to acclimatize to conditions in Hong Kong, but showed he was close to his best when finishing strongly behind Great Harvest over course and distance last month.
His subsequent trackwork, and eye-catching trial with Purton aboard, indicate he now looks the finished article, and with the inside draw a bonus it will be major disappointment if he is beaten.
Stormtrouper 2.45pm Happy Valley