There is an 8-race card at Happy Valley on Wednesday which gets underway at 12:15 UK Time. Although we are still at a very early stage of the new season in Hong Kong, the majority of the runners on the card have either made their seasonal return or been seen in a Barrier trial so that there is a little bit more data for punters to use. I will certainly be waiting a little longer before getting more heavily involved in the racing in Hong Kong, but to test the waters I have found a couple of selections for Wednesdays card to back Win and Place. I have added links to the ratings for the 3 meetings that have been held in Hong Kong so far this season at the bottom of this page. I don't think we have seen any superstar performances yet and for that matter I don't think we are likely to at Happy Valley this Wednesday, but the season is beginning to gather some momentum as we head into week 3 and beyond.
Race 3 - Owner's Praise
We saw Owner's Praise make his seasonal return just 3-days ago when he finished 7th in a Class 4 at Sha Tin on Sunday. With the assistance of Zac Purton, he was backed into a 4.3 favorite for that race over 1,400m and although the form book has a number 7 in it, this does not tell the whole story. The race was dominated by horses who raced prominently, with the first 4 home all racing in the leading group throughout the contest and he was one of the few horses to make up any ground from the rear. Having closed well, he ran out of racing room behind a wall of horses and Purton was forced to sit still and canter home behind the well bunched leaders, finishing a 3-length seventh despite never coming off the bridle. Given the confidence in the market on Sunday, it is clearly felt that this is his time to strike and although we are having to take into account the quick turnaround, he has been doing plenty of track work and looks to be close to peak fitness judging by his declared weight of 1275. He has hit the frame on both his previous visits to Happy Valley and the switch up to 1-mile should be fine for this son of Toronado, especially in a small field.
Purton gets off Owner's Praise to ride Flying Silver who is a 3-time winner at the track. However, his winning form has come over further and he didn't leap off the page in a recent Barrier Trial at Conghua. Harry Bentley takes the ride on Owner's Praise for the first-time and in a smaller field and what looks to be a weaker race, he seems less likely to meet the same trouble in running Purton experienced on Sunday. If he is to take advantage of his current wellbeing, Chris So could not have hoped for a better opportunity for his 5-year-old.
Race 1 - Loyal Ambition
The opening race should present a good opportunity for Loyal Ambition to earn second victory in Hong Kong. An overall record of 1 win from 26 starts is not inspiring, but he has been largely consistent in 2023 with 1 win and 4 placings from 8 starts since the turn of the year. He was last seen finishing 2nd in a handicap over 11-furlongs in July which is amongst the strongest form on offer in what looks to be a typical Class 5 event. He was forced to work hard from a wide draw that day and although he hit the front, he wasn't able to sustain his effort. Perhaps more importantly, he is normally a front runner and in this race, he looks to be the only pace angle. With a likely soft lead and his rider taking off a useful 7lbs, he should get the race run to suit and we know he is fit and ready to go after a recent Barrier Trial at Sha Tin. I have him running to a rating of 95.8 on his latest start, which puts him top of this field and if he gets to the front, he should prove very hard to pass.
*Both bets advised Win and Placed and will be recorded at Pool SP