WITH Christmas festivities and new year celebrations out of the way, it’s back to the serious business of finding winners at Happy Valley in Hong Kong today.
Having had to endure a two-week break from any action at the inner-city track over the holiday period, you can guarantee racegoers with be flocking through the turnstiles with plenty of enthusiasm and hoping for a lucky start to the new year.
Racing takes place on the ‘C’ track and offers punters a possible short-cut to success if they follow past results on the narrow course.
Statistics show punters should be looking for horses that have a low draw and race prominently or up with the pace from the off.
The last time racing took place on the ‘C’ course, eight of the nine winners were drawn five or lower and eight of the nine winners raced up with the early speed from the start.
Bearing those facts in mind, it’s hard to oppose last month’s easy track and trip winner WHAT A LEGEND who lines-up in the Kingston Handicap (12.15pm) over six furlongs.
This progressive Australian five-year-old confirmed earlier promise when racing at the Valley for the first time. He bounced out of the stalls and sat just behind the leader before sprinting clear in the closing stages.
With another low draw in his favour, he looks set for a similar journey sitting just behind some speedy fast starters and then delivering his challenge early in the home straight.
With a 9lb penalty, this looks a stiffer test on paper, especially with the once-raced and promising Noble Man representing the John Size and Joao Moreira combination, and offering stiff opposition.
What A Legend, however, showed his well-being with an impressive trial against Group One performers over six furlongs on Christmas Eve, suggesting he has improved further.
Another course and distance winner, NABOO STAR, looks capable of defying a penalty when he contests the Paterson Handicap (11.45am).
The Caspar Fownes-trained gelding has been called some names in his time, mostly uncomplimentary, having been near the forefront of the betting in seven of his first eight races, but failing to salute the judge.
The penny finally dropped back in November, following a change of tactics, which saw the five-year-old ridden closer to the pace from the off and then delivering an impressive finishing kick in the closing stages.
From a similar inside draw, jockey Vincent Ho is certain to replicate his November game plan and hopefully make an uninterrupted bid for glory late on.
This looks a competitive handicap on paper, with the back to form Ruletheroost near his best again and consistent campaigner Nitro Express both having strong chances off their current handicap marks.
Also keep an eye out for front-running POLYMER LUCK in the same race, who hasn’t been getting home in recent races.
He looked to be nearing his peak again last month when just out of the money in a competitive handicap.
Judged on subsequent trackwork, his body condition has improved since then and he could run well at attractive odds.
Naboo Star 11.45am Happy Valley
Polymer Luck (e/w) 11.45am Happy Valley
What A Legend 12.15pm Happy Valley