PUNTERS need to check on the weather before placing their bets on the eight-race card at Happy Valley today.
With squally showers and strong winds forecast throughout the day, surface conditions – normally good-to-firm – could change dramatically, especially if the rain gets into the ground ahead of racing.
If that wasn’t bad enough, racing takes place on the dreaded ‘C+3’ track, which means a short home straight of under two furlongs, while the width of the track is less than the length of a cricket pitch.
Low draw numbers have always held a sizeable advantage over high numbers at the city track, but even more so on this course, and especially in six-furlong races, where stall one has a 25 percent win and 46 percent place strike-rate over the past three seasons.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that horses drawn high can’t win, but they will need plenty of luck not to be caught wide throughout the journey, or, if held-up, to find a passage to weave through down the home straight.
One galloper who has drawn a valuable inside number in stall two, is the highly progressive, Frankie Lor-trained ADIOS, who seeks to defy a penalty in the High Island Handicap (2.50pm) over six furlongs.
This son of Snitzel confirmed earlier promise when making short work of some useful speedsters over the course and distance early last month.
Matthew Poon was always sitting with a double handful throughout that contest, and once let loose, came away from his rivals in impressive fashion.
He is pitched into another handicap, which on paper looks easier to handle, although the likes of improving Solar Winds, talented Global Harmony, and Mr Valiant are worth considering in forecasts.
Not one race meeting seems to go by without five-time Champion Jockey Zac Purton visiting the winners’ circle.
In fact, you have to go back nearly a month to find the ‘Zac-Man’ last leaving the races empty handed, and his recent record is incredible, with 21 winners from the last ten meetings.
The likes of Rattan Kingdom in the Tai Tam Handicap (11.15am) over six furlongs, Flying On The Turf, in the Shek Lei Pui Handicap (12.45pm), and last start winner Comet Splendido in the Plover Cove Handicap (1.45pm) over the extended mile are all capable of adding to Purton’s current tally of 32 winners this season.
However, his most interesting ride looks to be in the Kam Shan Handicap (2.15pm) over five furlongs, when Purton teams up with current Champion Trainer Frankie Lor aboard HEROIC MASTER.
This Australian-bred galloper arrived in Hong Kong in April with a big reputation, after winning two of his four races in his home territory.
After three trials, including a winning one over the course and distance in September, he was let loose against Class Two-rated Ping Hai Galaxy and company last month, finishing an eye-catching third.
That form reads well, and with Purton taking over in the saddle, he should prove hard to beat.
Heroic Master 2.15pm Happy Valley
Adios 2.50pm Happy Valley