Welcome to our horse racing preview and betting tips for racing at Happy Valley on Wednesday, October 9th.
Racing returns to the Valley tonight after a week off due to last Tuesday's National Day meeting at Sha Tin. There's an extra race on tonight's card with nine in total and the first set to jump at 9.45pm AEDT. We are racing on the B course.
Check out our race-by-race preview, tips and best bets for the evening below!
Best Bet: Race 4 - (8) Aurora Pegasus
Best Value: Race 5 - (7) C P Power
A very low race to kick off with. Three horses of interest. (3) Gouten Of Garo will start the short-priced favourite, which tells you everything you need to know about the race given he's yet to win from 23 starts. He received a class drop into Class 5 at the start of the season and has had two runs in the grade now. His first one was a complete forgive run when he was trapped three-wide without cover throughout at Sha Tin. He then returned to the Valley last start and ran fairly, beaten 1.75L into 3rd. He gets a couple things in his favour tonight. Firstly, Moreira jumps aboard for the first time this prep, taking over from Neil Callan (who is yet to win one this season), and he also draws barrier 1 which is hugely advantageous over the 1200m on the B course. He really gets his chance to win tonight, though trainer David Ferraris has yet to win a race this season from 37 starters. I've gone with (6) Starlot on top. Trainer Paul O'Sullivan enjoyed a treble at Sha Tin on the weekend and he teams with Zac Purton here. They've combined five times this season for two wins and two placings. Starlot resumed over 1000m here at the Valley where he completely blew the start, and thatwas his chances gone. He actually did a reasonably good job to finish as close as 2.3L off the winner. He ran the third quickest final sectional of the race and went to the line under a hold the last 50m or so. He steps up to 1200m which is his best distance (his two career wins have been at this track and distance and Purton replacing Derek Leung is obviously a big jockey change. I think he'll go close here. (2) La Bamba has shown very little in five career starts but he resumes for new trainer Douglas Whyte tonight. He's had a long time off but his two trials for Whyte have been the best he's looked. He drops into Class 5 for the first time and despite an awkward draw in barrier 9, he can run a race based on the improvement Whyte has drawn from other horses with similar profiles.
Competitive little Class 4 over the 1650m and the market looks to share similar thoughts to me. I'm really interested in (3) Zhan Jiang Rocks here. There's a few things to take notice of here. First, he's in his second season in Hong Kong having transferred over from the UK. Horses can take some time to adapt and acclimatise so I'm expecting him to be improved fresh from a spell here. Second, he drops from Class 3 into Class 4 for the first time. Finally, Zac Purton is booked to ride. Purton has done all the work on this horse this time in. He's galloped him five times and has ridden him in his only trial. It appears to me they've set him to win this and have booked Zac a long way out from race day. He's drawn ideally in barrier 3 and I think he'll be ready to run a huge race. (8) Flame Lily is likely to start favourite. He's yet to win from 17 starts but has placed in all four starts over this track and distance. Joao Moreira takes over tonight and he's also drawn beautifully in barrier 4. (9) Speedy Wally zoomed home over this track and distance last start and carries basically the same weight tonight. He's got a good record over this track and distance (four wins, nine placings from 22 starts) and looks a good chance to run well again. Sometimes, barrier 1 can be a bit problematic over the 1650m on the B-course, that's a little query. (11) Dionysis Collin could be the value in the race at each way odds. He was caught three-wide without cover first up before finishing 3d behind Simple Elegant at Sha Tin last start. The horse that ran 2nd came out and ran 2nd again on the weekend and this horse had a little excuse after jumping slowly. If he can jump well tonight I think he'll go close.
Two horses I'll be backing here and they are (3) Hardly Swears and (5) Bright Kid. Hardly Swears has had just two career starts despite being five years old. He had two trials in Australia and was sold to HK without racing. He then bolted in in his first HK trial, but wasn't seen again for five months after that. When he returned, his two trials were only fair and that was followed up with an ordinary showing on debut here over 1000m in June. I dare say he had problems and wasn't at his best for that preparation. However, he's returned this time in much better order. His only trial this prep was very encouraging and he came straight to the races, where he charged home from the back of the field to win in the last stride over 1000m. In doing so, he recorded the clear best final 400m sectional of the race and the second-fastest of the entire meeting (22.14sec). He's copped a six-point penalty in the ratings as a result of that and goes up 3.5kg in the weights, which certainly makes it tough for him to win again, but I think he's a horse that can overcome that. He will relish the step up to 1200m here and he also draws much better tonight in barrier 7. If he slots in somewhere in midfield, it will be very tough to hold him out late. Bright Kid moved to the stables of Douglas Whyte this season. His first up run at Sha Tin was encouraging, beaten 1.5L into 4th, and he actually ran the fastest final 400m of the race. Forgive him for his poor showing last start - he was trapped three-wide without cover throughout in a pretty strong race. Third up, stays at 1200m and draws ideally in barrier 3, I think he can be really competitive here. (9) Travel Datuk draws the inside marble but is yet to win in 33 starts in Hong Kong. I'm wary of (4) Shouson who gets Purton on board for John Moore. Moore has brought seven runners to Happy Valley this season and five of them have finished in the top two. Moore and Purton have combined eight times this season, resulting in two wins and five placings. They are a must-watch combo.
Expect (8) Aurora Pegasus to start a short priced favourite here and he looks the winner. He ran 2nd at Sha Tin last start, which was his first run for the new season. That was over this distance and looks good enough form to win this race. Since that run, he's since been back to the trials at Conghua (in China) and Purton even rode him in that trial. He chooses to ride him over (5) Top Score, who he rode in its last start, so that's another good sign for Aurora Pegasus. Barrier 3 is ideal and as mentioned, I'd expect him to win this. You can include (11) Jimson The Dragon at big odds. He finished midfield first up at Sha Tin over 1000m and he draws barrier 1 here, which should see him settle in the first few runners and get all the favours. That alone gives him place claims.
I'm going to stick with (7) C P Power here. He was beaten 0.75L first up over this track and distance but was the only horse in the race to break 23 seconds for the final 400m. The horse that ran 4th in that race (Dream Warriors) came out and won its next start, therefore franking the form, and we'll get another guide through Speedy Wally in Race 2 tonight. He carries the same weight tonight and draws the same barrier, but gets a jockey change with Aldo Domeyer taking over from the suspended Grant Van Niekerk. He'd obviously be very competitive if he's improved from that first up run. (5) Naboo Star has only raced six times. His three career placings came last prep and all three were at this track. He draws well in barrier 3 and Moreira is an eye-catching booking fresh. Purton rides (6) Charity Wings first up here and also rode him in a recent gallop. Amazingly, 23 of the 28 starts this horse has had have been at this track and distance, including all three wins and all six placings. Last time Purton rode him he won, so I'd be very wary here. (1) Right Honourable drops back to Class 4 but draws poorly in barrier 12.
Good little race. (2) Precious Sweetie and (3) Shamport are the two favourites here and both appear pretty hard to beat, but I'm going to bet around them. Precious Sweetie only has two wins from 13 career starts but he's a better horse than his record suggests and he won by 1.3L last time we saw him, which was over this track and distance. He's copped a seven-point rating penalty for that win and rises 5kg in the weights for tonight's first up run. With that said, he draws ideally and looks set to get the box seat, so he'll be hard to hold out. Shamport won impressively at his first start for the new season. That was his first win from 18 starts in Hong Kong and he might be able to go on with it now. He goes up 3kg in the weights and draws slightly awkwardly in barrier 8, but Moreira sticks with him and should be able to slot him in somewhere in the back half of the field. The two I'm interested in though are (1) Navas and (4) All Wongchoy. Navas dropped back into Class 4 at the end of last season but was probably a tired horse by then. He makes his first start for the new season tonight and Zac Purton is booked to ride. Last time Purton rode him, he won, which was over this track and distance when he dropped from Class 3 to Class 4. He looked fairly good in his recent barrier trial and I suspect they've targeted him to win this race. Expect him to settle back, hug the rail and be hitting the line hard. All Wongchoy has only had one career start, which was back in March, so he's been off the track for a while. He ran 3rd in that race and was beaten less than a length. I think he improved significantly from his first barrier trial to his second barrier trial this time in, which is an encouraging sign. He'll go forward from barrier 11 and probably sit outside the leader. He might be an each way chance at $8.00.
Tricky race to work out. You could make a legitimate case for most of this field. I'm going to go with the lightly-raced (10) Playa Del Puente at each way odds. He's had just one start in Hong Kong, which was over 1400m at Sha Tin. That race was run in good time and he ran the fastest final 400m of the race, coming from last to finish 5th. The step up in trip will suit him tonight but the query is the Happy Valley track, which is notoriously difficult for horses having their first start there. From the wide gate, he will go back to the rear of the field and be allowed to finish off. He's a promising horse heading towards the HK Derby next year so it will be interesting to see how he measures up here. He needs to start winning to get rating points. (1) Green Luck was a comfortable winner here first up but disappointed a touch last start. Moreira jumps back aboard tonight but he does have to carry top weight, and this is a fairly deep field, so I'll take him on. There's no denying his good record at the track and distance though. (4) Victory Boys also has a good record at the track and distance and he comes into this first up. Purton is booked to ride and he's drawn perfectly. Trainer David Hall has only had one winner for the season so far though. (6) Good Omen has the ability to win this and he makes his stable debut for Douglas Whyte. He's drawn awkwardly but I wouldn't be shocked to see him win and at $16 he's not the worst bet. (9) Harmony Hero also isn't hopeless.
(10) Nordic Warrior draws poorly in barrier 11 here, which really hurts as I was pretty keen to back him after his first up run. I'll stick with him though. He ran the fastest final 400m of the entire meeting first up (22.08sec). Purton is booked to ride tonight so hopefully he gets his chance. (4) First Responder should be able to find the lead here. He went close first up last prep off a similar lead up to what he's had for tonight. He'll get his chance but I would have thought Purton would ride him if Moore really had him set to win. Neil Callan rides him instead and he's yet to ride a winner this season. (3) Blitzing will get the run of the race and he's placed in nine of his 10 starts at this track and distance. He's quite clearly the one they have to beat. (5) Money Back makes his HK debut and can go well. His recent couple of trials have been encouraging and Paul O'Sullivan is flying.
The two at the top of the market will fight this out. It's hard to oppose (9) Snap Fit, who has won both of his career starts to date. He's a five-year-old so clearly he's had some issues. Both wins have been at this track and distance and he couldn't have been more impressive when he won first up last preparation. He should land in the box seat from barrier 5 and he'll take plenty of beating from there. If there is one little query it's the fact he's had no trials leading into tonight's race. (7) Special Stars gets all the favours from barrier 1. He had no luck first up when caught three-deep the trip here, but he draws much better tonight and Moreira goes back aboard. He's ready to win but unfortunately for him he looks to have bumped into a smart one.
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