RACING is once again on the infamous C+3 track at Happy Valley today, where the draw always plays an important role in determining winners, with the width of the track so narrow and only a short home straight of under two furlongs.
Historically, low numbers have a decided advantage, especially over distances of six furlongs and a mile, which was highlighted by seven of the eight winners coming from stalls no higher than four when racing took place on the track last month.
Unfortunately, today there is another element to take into account before making final judgements – the weather!
Hong Kong is suffering a cold snap at present, and Sha Tin seemed freezing on Sunday where racing took place on a good to yielding surface, which only happens once in a blue moon.
The forecast is for more rain and the temperature to be no higher than 14 degrees, which is cold with the humidity so high.
With ground conditions likely to be described as no better than good, there will be many gallopers racing on a surface totally alien to them.
One horse that won’t mind conditions is the normally fast-starting PACKING AWARD, who can overcome an awkward draw in the Yik Yam Handicap (11.45am) over the extended mile.
This son of former Cox Plate and Australian Guineas winner Shamus Award is attempting the trip for the first time, but there is every reason to believe the step up in distance will bring about further progression.
Having won over seven furlongs at Sha Tin last season, the four-year-old has produced a couple of encouraging efforts over six furlongs this term, with the latest catching the eye of the stewards.
With a hood equipped again – he finished runner-up with that headgear on last season – he is likely to bounce out in front and be hard to catch.
Former champion jockey Zac Purton continues his quest to overtake Joao Moreira in the jockeys’ championship race, before the ‘Magic Man’ resumes race-riding at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Purton has ridden a staggering 12 winners at Happy Valley at the last three meetings and it wouldn’t be a big price about him being top of the leaderboard before the weekend, with him currently only trailing by three.
One horse that Purton has jumped on and looks, on form at least, a proverbial ‘penalty kick’ is Armour Eagle, who has the plum inside draw in the Sing Woo Handicap (1.45pm) over six furlongs.
On his last start, a placed effort behind highly talented Flying Ace, the best form on offer and Purton riding at his minimum weight, the omens look good.
There is one problem however, his trainer, Me Tsui, is in desperate form, with the stable on a losing sequence that could total nearly one hundred horses come race-time.
With Armour Eagle’s odds likely to be short, a better proposition must be REWARDING TOGETHER, who is seeking a hat-trick after two highly impressive victories and is likely to improve again.
Packing Award e/w 11.45am Happy Valley
Rewarding Together 1.45pm Happy Valley