FORMBOOK students will tell you the second division of the Hap Mun Bay Handicap (2.45pm) over six furlongs is a match between the Zac Purton-ridden Thunderstrike and Joao Moreira’s mount Fiery Diamond.
Both jockeys are riding at their peak of their powers at present, with Purton currently leading his arch-rival by 95 winners to 92 in the jockeys’ title race.
Thunderstrike has a fair record on the all-weather, having won from a seven-pound lower mark in October before just losing out in a photo last month on only his third run on the surface.
Fiery Diamond probably went off too fast with Moreira aboard when behind Thunderstruck last time, but he had run well on the track before that when chasing home Class Three-rated Everyone’s Victory in December.
Both are the form horses in an average contest but they also have wide draws, and, with the likes of fast-starting Happy Tango and probably Dashing Genius charging to the front, they may be forced to race wide, which is off-putting.
It may be worth taking a chance with lightly raced but promising BLISSFUL STAR, who is ideally drawn for a trouble-free journey and should make his bid for glory before turning into the straight.
This New Zealand-bred galloper produced a couple of encouraging efforts last season but missed the start of the current campaign with a leg injury keeping him off the track for five months.
He probably needed his two runs this season – both promising – to get back to peak fitness, and notably his only dirt trial in December saw him chase home Group One performer Wellington, with smart gallopers Majestic Star and Fantastic Way just behind.
Blissful Star e/w 2.45pm Sha Tin