Welcome to our preview and horse racing betting tips for racing at Happy Valley in Hong Kong on Wednesday, January 9th.
We have an eight-race card on the A-course, with the Group 3 January Cup headlining proceedings in Race 6.
We’ve got betting tips and comments for every race below.
Best Bet: Race 4 Special Stars
Best Value: Race 8 Super Hoppy
The top three in betting all come through the same race over this track and distance a month ago. Kwaichung Brothers stormed home down the outside to win a touch cosily, with Doctors Delight beaten 0.9L into 3rd and Golden Cannon beaten 2L in 5th. It makes for an interesting rematch tonight with Kwaichung Brothers rising 3kg in the weights and drawing wide once again in barrier 12. Zac Purton sticks with him and will try and replicate his ride from barrier 11 last start. In his favour is the fact he was the only horse to break 23 seconds for his final sectional. That race was Doctors Delight’s first run this prep and his first run for new trainer Jimmy Ting, who has really hit the ground running in the Hong Kong training ranks. He currently sits 5th in the standings and notably, he’s had six winners from 16 runners (37.5% winning SR) over the 1650m course at Happy Valley. His winning strike rate with favourites is 38% and they place 71% of the time. Doctors Delight was under the whip befre the turn but he got going again late to surge into 3rd. It’s reasonable to expect a fair amount of improvement second up tonight so he goes on top narrowly. Golden Cannon may have been a touch unlcuky in the race last start. He looked as if he was going to go straight past Doctors Delight but he got squeezed and went to the line held up behind a wall of runners. With even luck tonight, he’s a chance of turning the tables on the two others mentioned above. Tricky way to start but I’ll be backing Doctors Delight with a saver on Kwaichung Brothers.
Zac Purton takes the ride on the Casper Fownes-trained Lightning Steed from barrier 1 here. The Purton/Fownes combination has a 64% ROI from 44 runners this season. Another positive is the fact that barrier 1 is the third most successful barrier over the 1000m trip on the A-course at the Valley this season, with four winners and five placings from 20 races. I think the drop back from 1200m to 1000m is a positive for this horse, who was in contention last start until he peaked at about the 150m mark. Expect him to get the box seat on the rail from the inside draw and hug the rail in the straight. He looks hard to beat. Strathallan makes his Happy Valley debut after racing at Sha Tin for his first five starts, recording a win and two placings along the way. He’s trialled twice at Happy Valley before, winning both, including an impressive effort a few weeks back in preparation for this. He’ll probably make the jump to Class 3 shortly so expect a big run from him tonight. Multimax won two starts back over 1200m in Class 5 here before being butchered last start over the 1000m when stepping up to Class 4. The apprentice goes on tonight so he carries no weight; he’ll go forward and be there for a long way. Have to be very wary of Tom’s Dragon for the Size/Moreira combination, while barriers 3 and 7 are most successful over the 1000m on the A course, so possibly include Striking Mr C and Mr Treasure at longer odds.
Tricky race. Super Lucky gets Purton aboard third up tonight – another ride for Casper Fownes. First up he ran the second-best final 400m of his race but he was slightly disappointing last start. He’s had seven weeks off since then and the booking of Purton suggests he might be ready now. Drawn well in barrier 5 and should be hard to beat. Jimson The Famous ran well enough on debut at Sha Tin. He comes to the Valley at his second start now and trainer Dennis Yip’s record at the Happy Valley 1200m is his best of any track/distance. The horse has trialled twice since his debut run and draws well for tonight. Split Of A Second has won two on the bounce but it’s not easy at all to win three straight in Hong Kong, especially when continuously rising in weight. He’s flying and draws well again tonight but the handicapper might have just got the better of him now. Sharpmind is one at longer odds that can go well. He’s drawn barrier 1 and that’s a big advantage over the 1200m at the Valley. He’s had some excuses so far this prep so I’d be including him at near double figure odds.
Special Stars finds himself in a pretty weak Class 3 here so he really shouldn’t have much trouble making the step up in class and for that reason, he looks a deserved $1.60 favourite. He won over this track and distance in Class 4 at the start of last month before going down by a head last start after missing the kick. Hopefully he jumps tonight, because if he does, he should sit in the box seat and beat this lot pretty comfortably.
Happy Warrior was a horror watch for backers last start when he was badly held up early in the straight before being beaten a neck over this track and distance. Douglas Whyte gets the boot tonight and is replaced by Silvestre De Sousa. Drawn well in barrier 3 and will start a popular favourite once more. Trainer John Moore has had 11 runners start favourite this season and six of those have won. Happy Warrior looks hard to beat with even luck. Spring Win produced an improved effort last start and from the good draw is worth including at double figure odds. Universal Go Go was disappointing last start but if you can forgive him for that, his form prior reads pretty well for a race like this. Barrier 11 doesn’t make it easy but he’s better than a $16 shot. Chaparral Star looks a decent each way chance once again for Fownes and Purton. Drawn awkwardly but Purton taking over tonight is a big plus and he’s placed in three of his four starts at the track and distance.
If the real Time Warp turns up tonight, he’s going to be awfully hard to beat. When he last ran over this track and distance, he broke the track record. He’s a multiple G1 winner, coming off a G1 placing, dropping back to G3 company. Further to that, there looks very little speed in the race, so expect him to fire across from barrier 10 in search of the rail. The only slight concern is that he’s a one-trick pony, so if something decides to pester him in the lead, he’ll probably be cooked. But if he can run them along at steady sectionals, he’ll be super-hard to catch at Happy Valley. Eagle Way has been racing well this campaign and won this race last year. He also drops back from G1 company but the killer for him is the drop back from 2400m to 1800m. It didn’t matter last year but this is probably a better field than what he beat when he won. Southern Legend could be the value in the race. He’s run 3rd to Beauty Generation in his past two starts, which is some of the best form in the world at the moment. He’s undefeated at Happy Valley and draws well in barrier 5. I’m expecting a big run from him at double figure odds. A good chunk of the market is taken up by runners down in the weights such as Northern Superstar, Simply Brilliant and Insayshable but I’m going to take them on against these better horses tonight.
Perfect Glory was terrible last start over the 1400m at Sha Tin but he had 60.5kg and barrier 12 on that occasion. He still carries the weight tonight but in this grade in midweek company it’s much easier for him than on a weekend at Sha Tin. Barrier 1 is a huge help and Purton takes over the reins. Expecting him to bounce right back tonight. Har Har Heart won over this track and distance two starts ago and just had too much to do from the wide gate last start. He’s drawn a bit softer tonight for Moreira and his overall record at this track and distance is solid. He’s a decent chance at each way odds. Gold Land draws very wide in barrier 12 but it’s actually not a bad barrier from a statistics point of view at this track and distance. He won two starts ago in Class 4 and was only beaten a length when stepping up to this class last start. Wonderful Journey is a complete blowout chance.
Great race to finish off with! Country Star is the three-year-old taking on the older horses and although he looks the one to beat, he looks short enough at odds on. He was brave in defeat last start and draws for a better run tonight so expect him to be hard to beat. But this is a deep Class 2. Super Hoppy has won three from five at this track and distance and has been freshened up since his last start. Drawn well in barrier 4 with Purton on board and double figures looks a good price if he reproduces his winning run from three starts ago. Starlight rises in grade but he put back-to-back wins on the board at this track and distance before tackling Sha Tin last time out. Better suited back at Happy Valley and has seven wins at this track and distance. Storm Signal has placed in his last six races. I suspect he’s a better horse over the 1000m rather than 1200m but barrier 1 helps tonight. Telecom Brothers has won three straight and Fantastic Feeling is another in terrific form coming into this. Not sure I’ll be taking odds-on about Country Star but there’s a stack of winning hopes outside of him.
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