Happy Valley 4th October
We are over 3-weeks into the new season in Hong Kong now and as a result there is a little more recent form to go on. As you might expect this is a very competitive card but there were 2 races that I thought I could find an angle into.
Race 4 – Shum Wan Handicap
E Talent has looked a very difficult ride in a pair of Barrier trials, and it is hard to be overly enthusiastic about his chances on his debut in Hong Kong. The other unexposed runner in the field, Little Fairy, does make some more appeal under Andrea Atzeni. He was 5th in a 1,200 metre handicap at Sha Tin in July when he was last seen. He had every chance that day once he was pulled out for his run, but lacked the pace for the sprint trip and this step up in trip should suit based on the way he hit the line. However, that effort came 93-days ago, and he didn’t look to be in the same form when soundly beaten in a recent trial. I have my eye on him with a view that he may well find a race once he starts racing at the correct trip, but this is probably a step too far for him on recent evidence.
Instead there is a bit more interest towards the top of the handicap. June Planet made a winning start to his season as part of a treble on the day for Hugh Bowman. That’s fair form and a 5 point rise to a rating of 56 is fair enough, but it should be noted that the race fell into his lap, and he may not get the same setup here. The favourite that day, D Star, set impossible fractions in front when he was far too keen and I don’t think it is any coincidence that the eventual winner and 2nd were held up in rear down the back straight. My selection, Durham Star, also has form with D Star from their meeting here last month, but I think I can make a much more solid case for him than I can for June Planet. Having settled behind the pace, he was forced to come 4-wide off the home bend and it took him time to get his balance before he came home with a strong rattle to be beaten less than a length. He recorded a much more encouraging speed figure than June Planet and under Zac Purton, I’d expect him to be ideally placed this time around.
I’m also keen to try and land an exotic in this race too as I think there is an angle behind the likely winner Durham Star. June Planet needs to be included because if he gets a strong pace again, he will be doing his best work at the finish, but at the bottom of the weights, Beauty Mission should be included too. He is 0 from 24 in Hong Kong and isn’t likely to break that maiden tag any time soon. However, despite his awkward head carriage, he did travel strongly into a 1,400 metre handicap at Sha Tin last time and was a little short of room in the home straight. He managed to hit the frame a couple of times over this course and distance last season, and he might be one to run into a place at a fair price.
Advised Selections: Durham Star (Win), Combi Exacta 3,2,11.
Race 5 – Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup (Handicap)
Excellent Peers is the best horse in this race and his career record before the turn of the calendar year last season read 2,1,1,2. That makes him of interest, and he made an encouraging comeback when staying on well to be 4th here last month. He has weight to concede and is one of the more exposed runners in the field, but I do like him as a horse to be involved in the finish. Allgreektome was 3rd here last month having made the running and not quite made it home when he hit the front in the straight. He has a swing at the weights with the second placed Beauty Glory, but I’d still fancy the latter to overcome that. The weights may have reversed but so has the draw and from stall 9, Allgreektome is going to have to battle to get across for the lead, not to mention the fact that he is likely to have competition in front from the likes of Tomodachi Kokoroe and Lucky Archangel. If Purton can get to the front, then he may be able to save enough this time, but it is far from guaranteed from that draw. With a strong gallop to follow, I would prefer to look for a horse who will be in behind as they head down the back straight and that brings in Beauty Glory and Euro Rocks. He was 2nd in a Class 3 on the All-Weather track at Sha Tin and ran perfectly well to finish a length behind the very well backed Self Improvement (sent off at 1.3 in the local pools). He is unexposed after just 6 starts, but both his placed finishes have come when fresh and he didn’t shape like a certainty for next time, for all that we should give him credit for pulling clear of the rest.
I should also mention Lucky Archangel, who won here last month when he was ideally placed behind the leader. The front 2 dominated and I’m not sure that he will get the same setup today, but you should never entirely discount winning form. However, I do feel that the form of Allgreektome and Beauty Glory is the strongest and for that reason it is the Tony Cruz runner who appeals more.
Advised Selections: Beauty Glory (Win and Place), Combi Exacta 1,3,4,6.