IT LOOKS as if the gods of fortune have smiled on highly progressive galloper HARMONY FIRE, who has an all-important low-draw number in the Clementi Handicap (2.45pm) over five furlongs at Happy Valley.
The action takes place on the infamous ‘C+3’ course, where the width of the track is only around the length of a cricket pitch, and hard luck stories are too numerous to mention.
A low draw and a quick start are paramount when racing on this track, and past results bear testament to this fact.
For example, in six-furlong races, where the first bend is only a furlong from the start, horses in stall one have a 24 per cent win strike-rate from 59 races over the past three seasons, while horses drawn in two have a 48 per cent win and place record over the same period.
It’s a similar story in extended mile races, where horses drawn with the inside numbers (one and two) have a 31 per cent win and place record from nearly 50 races.
Horses with wide draws obviously still win, but it takes plenty of good jockeyship not to be caught wide during the contest.
If coming from behind, having to plot an uninterrupted passage down the home straight, measuring just over one-and-a-half furlongs long, is also no easy task.
Course and distance specialist Harmony Fire, a three-time course and distance winner, has yet to finish outside the first four in half-a-dozen races.
Stepped up in Class 3 company back in June, the Douglas Whyte-trained four-year-old defied an awkward draw and never looked in danger of defeat, when sprinting clear of the opposition including rival Heart Conquered, and winning with the minimum of fuss.
The Australian bred import has been given a solid preparation for this contest with an encouraging trial against a 100-rated sprinter, over the straight Sha Tin five-furlongs in the middle of last month.
With Whyte’s stable clearly in-form, having saddled three wins in the opening weeks, and top claimer Jerry Chau on a high, after riding a double at Sha Tin on Sunday, the signs are looking good for the partnership to strike again.
The main opposition looks likely to come from the likes of well-drawn Flying Genius, whose recent seasonal return can be ignored, after starting slowly and getting too far back a fortnight ago.
This former four-time track and trip winner produced his best performance of last season, with a win on the ‘C+3’ track in February, from a near similar mark in the handicap.
Hong Kong Bet, with Joao Moreira aboard, will appreciate a change of stable and returning to the minimum trip, while fast-starting Harmony N Blessed and speedy Heart Conquered, just touched off by Resolute recently, are others to consider.
For those with Tote betting accounts, it could prove profitable to place a ‘Quinella’ wager (name the first and second in either order), by nominating Hong Kong Bet, Harmony Fire and Harmony N Blessed, which adds up to three bets.
Harmony Fire 2.45pm Happy Valley