Richards to Encounter another Valley winner in progressive Pachisi
RACING fans can look forward to an excellent card at Happy Valley on Wednesday, with over £1.6m in prize money on offer on the nine-race programme.
Favourite-backers would have left Sha Tin on Sunday full of the joys of spring after six of the 10 races went to market leaders.
They will, however, find this Valley card a very different kettle of fish, with many of the races wide-open affairs.
Star attraction at the city track has to be expensive French import Viva Chaleur, who seeks to get his career back on track in the Tsui Man Handicap (2.50pm) over the extended mile.
Formerly known as Trident when trained by Andre Fabre in France, this son of Wootton Bassett was runner-up in the G1 Prix Morny behind Perfect Power as a juvenile and filled a similar position behind Modern Games in the G3 Somerville Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.
After a couple of encouraging runs in Hong Kong, trainer Caspar Fownes had high expectations that the four-year-old would make his mark in the Hong Kong Classic Series and be a leading fancy for the HK Derby.
That was until he showed nothing in the Hong Kong Classic Mile at Sha Tin ten days ago, when trailing the field for most of the journey and never sighted.
With the form of that contest questionable to many pundits, Fownes’ runner makes a quick return to the track, in the hope of him proving that form wrong and still being a Classic contender going forward.
He is, however, going to have to do it the hard way from the outside draw, and is mapped to suffer a wide and tough journey.
A better alternative can prove hat-trick seeking and highly progressive ENCOUNTERED, who was hugely impressive when withstanding the late charge of Rocket Spade from the outside draw over the course and distance last month.
With a low draw of five in his favour this time, he is set for a more economical journey and, despite a penalty, has enough in hand to overcome potential danger Sight Spirit.
Supporting gallopers from the widest draw (12) at Happy Valley, is a quick journey to the ‘poor house’ with many hopes dashed from the coffin-box number.
However, it may still be worth taking a chance with the Jamie Richards-trained PACHISI, who has drawn the outside number in the Village Handicap (12.45pm) over five furlongs.
Richards has his stable in good form at present, with a winner at the last three meetings and nine of his 11 winners coming at the city track.
This New Zealand-bred gelding has always looked a sure-fire future winner, judged on trial form, and produced an eye-catching performance when coming from the clouds to snatch third place behind Faribault on his debut last month.
That form reads well in this contest and, provided Karis Teetan has him close enough turning into the home straight, his impressive finishing-kick should do the rest.
Pachisi 12.45pm Happy Valley
Encountered 2.50pm Happy Valley