TRAINER Manfred Man will be hoping for a change of fortune when he arrives at Happy Valley today. The likeable local handler has made a quiet start to the season with just 13 winners, but there is every reason to believe he won’t be leaving the track empty-handed again.
Man has managed to retain the services of Hong Kong’s leading riders Joao Moreira and Zac Purton for a couple of his horses and both can be given leading chances.
Moreira, who rarely rides for Man, has a record of one win and a place from just three rides for the trainer this season and climbs aboard the consistent EVERYONE’S ELITE in the Tai Po Handicap (11.45am) over the extended mile.
This Australian bred five-year-old has suffered bad luck since stepping up to a mile. He has either found himself with no cover throughout his journey or has had to work too hard from an outside draw before getting caught near the winning line.
This time there can be no excuses. An inside draw maps him to get an ideal journey throughout the race and all it needs is Moreira to sprinkle some of his magic down the home straight to gain an overdue success.
Half-an-hour later it’s the turn of Purton to renew his association with Man’s COMPASSION STAR in the Sai Kung Handicap (12.15pm) over six furlongs.
Purton has already won three times on the six-year-old, the latest being a comfortable win over the course and distance last September.
Compassion Star was back to winning ways under the guidance of Silvestre de Sousa at the end of January, but an 8lb penalty is going to make life tougher, especially with the well-drawn and Moreira-ridden California Rad in opposition.
However, the ‘Zac-Man’ is guaranteed to make this a stiff test from the off and then hold off all challengers in the closing stages.
Talking of trainers, it’s a game of musical chairs at the top of the table in Hong Kong at present. This time last week, Francis Lui, trailing current leader Ricky Yiu by two wins, notched a treble at the Valley and jumped to the top of the leaderboard.
Yiu responded 72 hours later by saddling a treble at Sha Tin and was back at the summit again.
Both trainers are in action at the Valley and it’s Francis Lui who appears to have the stronger team of potential winners.
Lui saddles half-a-dozen contenders and the form book says all of them have leading chances.
His best hope could prove to be the lightly-raced THIS IS CHARISMA in the opening Sai Kung Handicap (11.15am) over six furlongs.
In-form jockey Vincent Ho comes in for the ride and renews his successful partnership with Lui. They have combined for 14 winners this season.
This Is Charisma didn’t get much luck on only his third run in Hong Kong when a creditable fifth from an awkward draw over course and distance last month.
This time he has the all-important inside draw which sets him up for a trouble-free journey throughout.
Recent winner Flying Godspell and improving Amazing are obvious threats, but This Is Charisma can prove he is better than his present rating suggests.
This Is Charisma e/w 11.15am Happy Valley
Everyone’s Elite 11.45am Happy Valley
Compassion Star 12.15pm Happy Valley