RESULTS at the nine-race programme at Happy Valley on Wednesday could be pivotal in deciding who will be crowned Champion Jockey and Trainer in the territory for the 2021/22 season.
With just over three weeks of the season remaining and eight meetings left on the calendar, it has suddenly become game on in the Jockeys’ Championship race.
A Zac Purton four-timer last Sunday cut his deficit to two behind arch-rival Joao Moreira and the Australian finally looks like he has his mojo back.
It was only a few weeks ago that reigning champion Moreira led his rival by eight winners and looked to have the Championship done and dusted, with Purton low on confidence and suffering niggling injuries.
That’s all changed now with Purton aboard eight winners in the past fortnight and confidence restored.
Moreira meanwhile has been suffering a bout of seconditis, finishing runner-up seven-times at the last two meetings, and with two wins in that time his only compensation.
Purton arrives at the inner-city track with a host of winning chances, notably Ares in the Elgin Handicap (12.15pm) over six furlongs and Exuberant in division two of the Gage Handicap (2.15pm) over the same distance.
Add to that the likes of Blissful Star in the Graham Handicap (1.45pm) over the extended mile and exciting sprinter Flying Season in the Lyndhurst Handicap (2.45pm) over six furlongs, who are both likely to go off warm favourites.
With his card marked in all nine races alongside Moreira, it would be a chance missed if he doesn’t close the gap further by the end of the day, especially with the champion probably banking on the exciting, but awkwardly drawn, Yellowfin in the five-furlong dash at 12.45pm to get him on the scorecard.
In the Trainers’ Championship race, Frankie Lor has a healthy six-win lead over his former mentor and 11-time Champion John Size, as he bids for his first title.
Lor and Size lock horns in a handful of races on the card, with Lor, at least on paper, holding the upper hand with the likes of well-handicapped Ares in the Elgin Handicap, and Rewarding Together in the Staunton Handicap (3.50pm) both capable of extending his lead.
With Purton presently on fire and Lor saddling winners for fun you can guarantee the local betting enthusiasts will be queuing up in their droves to support their heroes, and consequently the pair’s horses are likely to be over bet and offer no value.
Bearing that in mind it may be worth looking elsewhere and taking a chance with slow-burner REGENCY MASTER in the Graham Handicap (1.45pm) over the extended mile.
This Danny Shum-trained galloper and former course and distance winner has taken some time to find his form this season but offered some encouragement when a strong finisher behind rival Red Brick Fighter last start.
Now racing off a mark four pounds lower than his last winning one, he can prove an attractive proposition.
Regency Master (e/w) 1.45pm Happy Valley