Welcome to our preview and horse racing betting tips for Happy Valley in Hong Kong, which hosts the International Jockeys’ Championship tonight (Wednesday, December 5th).
The track is rated Good and the rail is in the B position (rail out slightly). The IJC takes place in races 4, 5, 7 and 8.
We’ve got betting tips and comments for every race below, as well as our selections for the Jockeys’ Championship (betting available).
Best Bet: Race 6 Country Star
Best Value Bet: Colin Keane to win IJC
Very ordinary race to kick things off. The highest rated horse in this race has a rating of 36 and the favourite is $2.40 having won one race from 20 career starts. That favourite is Wonderful Tiger who improved out of sight when Zac Purton jumped aboard last start. He was beaten a neck over this track and distance and the inside barrier helped him on that occasion, just as barrier 3 is a big help to him tonight. Purton sticks with him and he looks the one to beat, albeit short enough in the market. I’m pretty keen to have something on My Blessing at $8.50 first up. He’s had two trials leading into this – he won the first of those and was only given a very quiet time in his most recent one. This time last year, he ran 3rd first up over 1200m at this track. He’s got two wins at the 1650m to his name and he appeals as a value play in the race. Best Effort went close at Sha Tin last start. His record at Happy Valley is poor but this is the first time he’s raced here in Class 5 company. Drawn a bit awkwardly in barrier 9. No result would really shock you here but I’ll be backing Wonderful Tiger and My Blessing.
Very even race. Worth noting the barrier statistics over the 1200m on the B course at Happy Valley. You want to be inside barrier 5 and barrier 1 is the most successful of the lot. That barrier goes to last-start winner Peace On Earth, who beat three of his rivals tonight on that occasion. Should be able to box seat from barrier 1 and despite going up 4.5kg in the weights, he should prove hard to beat. The Show was one of only three horses to break 24 seconds for his final 400m last start when running 3rd to Multimax. He won over this track and distance four starts ago and has continued to race well so he should be thereabouts again. Raichu gets Purton back on and draws well enough in barrier 5. He finished ahead of The Show over this track and distance two starts ago. Happy Happy draws awkwardly and has a poor record but did run the fastest 800m-400m split and the third fastest final 400m last time out. Tough race. Maybe a small each way bet on Peace On Earth at $5.00/$2.00.
Sticking with the barriers here and Good Companion, who draws barrier 2 for the 1200m. He was good first up before just doing too much work outside the leader last start, but he should get a much softer run from the good draw tonight and also gets a little bit of weight relief with the claim. He’s got a reasonable record at this track and distance and has also won his only other third up start previous to tonight. Split Of A Second has returned well. He wasn’t tested first up and then won last time out. Much different proposition tonight from barrier 11 (as opposed to barrier 1 last start) with 58.5kg. Purton jumps on Naboo Star for Casper Fownes. I mentioned last week how we always need to take notice of him riding for Casper (especially when dropping in class) so this is no different. He was only fair on debut but that was a strong race and he could improve sharply tonight. Douglas Whyte rides Perfect To Play and jumps off a couple of others to do so. Could improve second up.
First leg of the IJC and it’s a competitive one at that! Much like the 1200m, the 1000m tends to favour those drawn close to the rail. Barrier 1 has produced 6 winners from 28 starters on the 1000m B course this season. Lunar Zephyr gets the plum draw tonight with Ryan Moore aboard – a good combo! He won over the track and distance four starts ago but has since drawn barriers 11, 5 and 12, with the single digit one being at Sha Tin (not so helpful down the straight course). He doesn’t win out of turn but he’s going on top for me tonight at $6.00. Bowman lands on Mr Right, who has a good record at this track and distance with six wins and six placings from 29 starts. He hasn’t been far away lately and could find the front tonight. General Iron is always a threat in this grade but has only one win from 21 starts at the track and distance. Special Stars draws poorly but was sound on debut and can improve second up for Size.
The second leg of the IJC. Sticking with last start winner Glory Star and Silvestre De Sousa, who was simply dominant in his first start for Jimmy Ting. He bolted in to win by 2.5L despite having to cover ground and even though he’s drawn barrier 12 tonight and goes up in grade, he looks as if he could be competitive again. I wouldn’t rule out a blowout result in any of these races such is the quality of riders. CP Power at $26 and Namjong Invincible at $23 are two that could spring a surprise for jockeys Colin Keane and Zac Purton respectively. Marvel Joy is favourite with Bowman on but he couldn’t win from barrier 1 last start with Purton on, so I have doubts whether he can win from barrier 9 with Bowman. Young Glory has the advantage of barrier 1 and could even lead tonight.
A break from the IJC so this race won’t count towards the jockeys’ championship, which is unfortunate for Hugh Bowman who picks up the plum ride on Country Star for John Size. This horse is very progressive and did everything but put his nose in front last start. He drops a kilo in the weights tonight and with even luck, should prove very hard to beat. After losing the ride on Country Star, Purton takes the reins on Beauty Loyal, who has been luckless all preparation. He needs to jump a bit better tonight but if he does he can be competitive.
Leg 3 of the IJC. Another competitive one. All You Know comes up favourite after a fairly convincing win over track and distance last start. Prior to that he ran well for 2nd, so he’s certainly in the right form. The only query is the fact he’s had two inside draws for those runs and tonight draws barrier 9, so he’ll have to do a bit more work to win tonight. Sparkling Sword just continues to run well and draws a barrier that can see him finish in the money again tonight. He backed up a win over track and distance three starts ago with two minor placings. He looks another solid ride for Colin Keane. Purton gets the ride on Positively High, who should be able to improve third up tonight. He’s drawn poorly in barrier 11 but he improved significantly from his first up run to his second up run so don’t be surprised to see him feature in the finish tonight. Formula Galore another at big odds that could spring a surprise.
The final leg of the IJC is a bit of a lottery. Can’t believe I’m tipping The Judge but he won over track and distance three starts ago and hasn’t had much go his way in two starts since. He was chopped in half and had no room two runs back, before failing to feature at Sha Tin last start. Back to Happy Valley, drawn well for Lemaire, he can bounce back at eachway odds. Super Form is consistent and draws well enough to run his usual honest race. Electric Lightning won last start but steps up in grade tonight. He does get barrier 1 so he may be able to use that to help him with the rise in class. Thunder Stomp actually beat Super Form last prep and he’s drawn well tonight so could be the blowout. Another rough chance for Keane.
I couldn’t quite believe we lost when we backed Victory Boys last start, so he owes us one tonight and I’ll be following my money on him. He’s in good form and has finished in the top two in five of his eight starts at this track and distance. He’s drawn a bit awkward but he’ll just let it all unfold in front of him and hopefully get home over the top late. Super Chic is another in good form and although his record at 1800m is terrible, he went close two starts ago over the distance and backed that up with a win over 1650m. From the good draw he should be right in it again. Red Warrior was disappointing behind Super Chic last time out but can atone tonight from barrier 1, while Good Omen steps up in class but has a good third up record and could feature with the light weight.
Bowman is favourite but I’ve gone against him. His best ride of the night won’t count for the IJC. I think the prices about Ryan Moore ($6), Silvestre De Sousa ($7) and Zac Purton ($8) are all good, while the blowout is Colin Keane at $17. Market here.
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