Welcome to our horse racing preview and betting tips for racing at Happy Valley on Wednesday, May 20th.
A nine-race card on the C+3 course at the Valley awaits, with the rail being in the widest position.
Check out Tim's preview and betting tips for every race in Hong Kong below!
Best Bet: Race 4 - (1) Allied Agility
Best Value Bet: Race 3 - (10) Seize The Spirit
Competitive start to the card. (4) Management Supreme improved as expected with a good draw last start. On debut, he was taken back from a wide draw, but he led them up from the low draw last start and was only run down late. He draws out a bit again tonight in barrier 9, but Vincent Ho jumps off three other horses in the race to keep the ride on him. (12) Diamond Legend draws the all-important barrier 1 here, which is a huge advantage on the C+3 course over 1200m, accounting for 26% of the winners this season. He drops back to 1200m after racing over the mile, but he practically has to be included due to the draw and at the odds it's worth having something on. (2) Happy Good Guys is one of the horses Ho jumps off, having ridden it in his past three starts. He won three starts back, then was a touch unlucky two runs back, but I thought he was a bit disappointing last time out. Moreira jumps on and he draws well so he deserves plenty of respect but I'll oppose him here. (8) Farm Bumper is in great form but it's all been over 1000m and he's previously struggled over the longer trip of 1200m. (1) Goodluck Goodluck drops into Class 4 for the first time this campaign and when he last raced in this class, he posted a 3.3L win, but that was back in June 2018.
This is as Hong Kong as a race gets. We've got a $3.30 favourite in the form of 19-start maiden (9) Dionysis Colin, and after declaring he couldn't win two weeks ago, I've got him on top tonight, but not with any confidence. He's placed in eight of his 19 starts, and four of his five starts over this track and distance. He is the definition of a herd-chaser, but if there is anyone who can get him across the line in 1st, it's Zac Purton, and he takes the ride on him for the first time tonight. (3) Shadow Breaker made his first start here at Happy Valley a winning one, leading all the way to score over this distance last start. He draws wide tonight and carries an extra 3.5kg which may just prove the difference. Moreira jumps off a last-start winner to take the ride on (7) Salto Olimpico. This horse had 10 duck eggs in a row, finishing no closer than 10th and starting no less than $34 in any of those races, before suddenly popping up and running 3rd last time out when backed into $11. The difference was how they rode him. In his 10 duck eggs, he settled a long way back in the field, but they sent him forward to lead last start and that proved a very effective tactics change. Now Moreira jumps on and he's a $4.40 chance. It's a funny game.
Pretty keen on (10) Seize The Spirit each way here. This is his third run back from a break and his last run was a complete forgive run. He settled forward second, then got shuffled all the way back to eighth in the run, then had to negotiate traffic in the straight and still picked up strongly late to run 4th. It was a terrible ride from the apprentice but he gets a huge jockey change tonight with Vincent Ho taking over. He jumps off Blooming Spirit to do so and he gets in with a very winnable weight with 51.5kg. $8.50 looks a good bet but it is a competitive race. Blooming Spirit was outlcassed by Tangmere last start, but Tangmere is flying so it's not a bad form reference. He's got two wins and two placings from his last four starts and from the good draw shoud be competitive again. Moreira sticks with (6) Lightning Steed who was only run down late last start. He draws well again and should be tough to beat. (3) Focus next best.
I've been on (1) Allied Agility his past couple of starts and I see no reason to jump off tonight. $5.50 is a terrific each way price. This horse is flying. Two starts ago he was given a poor ride when caught three-wide the trip, beaten 2.3L by Larson and Be Ready, before atoning for that defeat by winning over track and distance last start, despite being caught wide again. He turned the tables on Larson on that occasion, and Larson has since come out and won again by 2.8L, so the form line is very, very good. He meets a number of horses who were beaten by Larson last start, and if he had the wood over Larson, there's every chance he has the wood over these too. He carries the same weight as last start with the claim for Alfred Chan, and he just needs a good ride from the apprentice, with that negative jockey change being the only little worry. Behind him it's a wide-open race! (9) G-Unit comes up trumps with barrier 1, which is a big advantage on the C+3 course over 1000m. He carries bottom weight and has a good record over the track and distance so he should be thereabouts. Can make a case for a handful of others too. $5.50 each way for Allied Agility is the way to go.
I'm hoping (1) Ares proves to be better than this lot. He won well first up and then ran 2nd last time out, where he probably just had a bit too much to do from where he was at the top of the straight. He closed off well to the line and it wouldn't surprise me if we saw Purton a bit more positive tonight. Purton jumps off (8) Lucky Quality who is second favourite and Karis Teetan picks up the ride. He should have won last start but he was a complete pig in the gates and bombed the start, which cost him all chance of winning from barrier 1. He did a good job to run 3rd all things considered, but his manners need to improve. (11) Bullish Brother draws the premium barrier in 1 so he can be included at $9.50.
Tough race. (2) Simply Fluke has won two on the bounce and has done so after starting from barrier 12 on both occasions. It's very difficult to do that once, let alone twice in a row. He cops another penalty tonight as a result, so will carry the full 60.5kg tonight. Unfortunately, he's drawn out once again, this time barrier 11. He'll need to be good but it's hard to argue with his form and there's plenty of horses just making up the numbers here, so he might get away with another one on his way up in class. (4) Jade Phoenix failed over 1400m last start and he makes his Happy Valley debut tonight. Purton sticks with him and he draws well in barrier 4, and he gets the blinkers back on. Jimmy Ting has a 21% strike rate at this track and distance, so it's worth including his debutant (7) Hin Yuen Bis with Karis Teetan booked to ride.
This is a tricky race so I'll just keep it simple with one horse. (12) Nordic Warrior carries bottom weight here and steps up to 1650m for the first time in 15 months. He comes off a solid 2nd placing behind Shining Gem here at Happy Valley, where he closed off in the fastest final 400m of the race. That could indicate he's ready to make the rise in distance, and the barrier allows him every chance to handle the extra trip. He doesn't win out of turn so it's hard to be confident, but he gets his chance tonight.
Good race! (2) Golden Dash looks primed for this. He's had two runs back from a long spell, where he's been ridden by Matthew Poon, and tonight he gets Zac Purton back on for the first time since he rode him to victory at the end of last prep. He draws barrier 1 tonight as opposed to barrier 12 last start and that's a huge plus over 1200m on the C+3 course. He looks hard to beat. (1) Californiadeepshot had no luck at all last start, caught three-wide the trip before fighting on the finish 4th. Draws much better in barrier 6 tonight with Moreira sticking with him. (7) California Rad has won two on the bounce and he's built a good record over this track and distance now. Cops another 2kg in the weights but that might not stop him winning again. He was truckloaded in betting last start so watch the market closely.
Great race to finish off. (4) This Is Class proved the drop back in distance last night was no worry, saluting for the third straight time. He's never missed the top two from six starts over this track and distance and the step back up to 1200m tonight is ideal. He draws poorly in barrier 11 but the $9.00 is a price that's too good to turn down. (2) Shining Ace is another that loves this track and distance, with nine placings from 10 starts. He draws well and gets Moreira back on tonight so has obvious claims. (1) Amazing Star has won four from five this prep and deserves favouritism but he has to carry much more weight than anything else in the race tonight, which might test him. Hard to knock how he's going though. (8) Larson was dominant leading all the way last start and is on an upward spiral. He can feature again. Chances don't end there!
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