ALL EYES will once again be on reigning Champion Jockey Zac Purton when he has his card marked in eight of the nine races on the mid-week card at Happy Valley.
It hasn’t been easy for bettors in the territory over the past week, with numerous short-priced favourites beaten at both the Valley and Sha Tin, and Purton needed to come to the punters’ rescue when steering the last two market leaders to victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Zac-Man added another four wins to this season’s tally of 105 at Sha Tin and, barring accidents, is heavy odds-on to surpass Joao Moreira’s Hong Kong record of 170 wins, set back in the 2016/17 season.
Purton will once again be aboard plenty of favourites at the city-track, but hasn’t been too lucky with draw-numbers for his rides.
The ‘C’ track historically favours low draws and gallopers up with the pace from the off, but the champ finds himself associated with some well-fancied contenders who have either awkward or high stalls.
Well-rated Inspiring City in the Ma Wan Handicap (11.15am) over six furlongs, and last-start-winner Diamond Soars, in the Ireland Trophy Handicap (12.45pm) over five furlongs, both have gilt-edged chances on the form book, but wide draws temper enthusiasm.
Purton joins forces with trainer Jamie Richards to partner PACHISI in division two of the Lamma Island Handicap (2.15pm) over six furlongs and is another who has an awkward stall of eight.
With the likely pace of the race sure to be quick with speedsters Smokey Bear, Island Surprise and Loriz vying for the lead, this should give his pilot plenty of opportunity to find some cover in midfield from the off.
The New Zealand-bred three-year-old has looked a sure-fire future winner in both his two races to date, firstly when lack of experience cost him when third on his debut, and then from a difficult outside draw, when seen thundering home but just too late to catch Hearty Wish over five furlongs last month.
There is no doubt he would have won that contest had he been drawn better, and the step up in distance is a major plus to his chances.
Purton teams up with trainer Danny Shum to ride newcomer Helene Feeling in the Cheung Chau Handicap (1.45pm) over six furlongs.
This ex-UK galloper, formerly known as Indian Dream and a winner of two races when trained by Michael Bell, has looked progressive in trials, but lack of experience will count against him, especially when coming up against recent winner HOWDEEPISYOURLOVE.
John Size’s fast-improving son of Deep Field won with his head in his chest over the course and distance a fortnight ago and is capable of defying his penalty.
In the same race keep an eye on PULSAR STRIDER who visits Happy Valley for the first time and makes plenty of each-way appeal.
Howdeepisyourlove 1.45pm Happy Valley
Pulsar Strider (e/w) 1.45pm Happy Valley
Pachisi 2.15pm Happy Valley