Welcome to our horse racing preview and betting tips for racing at Happy Valley on Wednesday, September 11th.
This is the first meeting back at Happy Valley for the new season so let's get stuck in to the eight-race card!
Best Bet: Race 5 - (3) Best Smile
Best Value: Race 7 - (4) Splendour And Gold
(3) Royal Racer returns to Happy Valley tonight and that should see him prove hard to beat. He finished 10th of 14 on the opening day of the season at Sha Tin but that was against a much harder field than this and trainer Casper Fownes is renowned for being the "King of the Valley" - his horses go significantly better here than Sha Tin. This horse actually finished last season with a win and a placing here at the Valley, both in this class and over this track and distance. Moreira takes the ride from the good gate and he's the one to be on.
This is a race for some of Hong Kong's greatest non-winners. I'm going to side with (11) Raichu who gets Joao Moreira on from barrier 1. Barrier 1 over the sprint trips at Happy Valley on the B course is a big plus. This horse only has two wins from 36 starts but he's placed in three of his six starts at the track and distance previously. He gets absolutely everything in his favour to break through tonight. (5) Exponents is racing really well and comes here on the four-day back-up having raced on Sunday at Sha Tin, where he ran 2nd. He's back to the 1000m tonight which is a little query and he's also drawn a touch awkwardly, but all he'd have to do is repeat his run and he'd go very close to winning. Purton rides (9) Whistle Up at 120lbs which is a good indication he'll run well - the champ doesn't ride that weight often and when he does it's usually for good reason. With that said, the horse is still a maiden after 19 starts but he can run a place.
This race isn't much better! I'm basically going off little things I look for in Hong Kong to find a winner here. Unsurprisingly I've landed on Purton, who takes the ride on (4) Little Island. The horse comes here first up and this is his first time in Class 5, having previously done all his racing in Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4. So he gets the drop in grade tonight that he needs. His three Hong Kong victories have all been at this track and distance. Purton rode him in his only trial leading into this race and sticks with him for the race which is encouraging. Well-drawn, I'd expect him to be very competitive.
Pretty keen on (1) Doctor Geoff here. He's had two starts at Happy Valley and both have been pretty convincing wins. Both of those have also been in this Class. Again, Purton rode him in his recent trial and has quite clearly been booked to ride him for tonight's race for a little while, because Casper Fownes said he would have been riding (5) Green Luck but he was already booked on Doctor Geoff. He'll be in the finish. Green Luck finished his season off in good form and he actually ran 2nd to Doctor Geoff here two starts ago when Purton rode him. He should have won that race but was a bit weak in the finish. He's got a good record at the track and distance and will go close again. (8) Right Choice can go well - he's won five of his eight starts so I wouldn't take him lightly, while (9) Harmony Hero gets in very light at the weights.
(3) Best Smile looks your winner here. He ran 2nd on debut over track and distance, which was a good effort. He trialled very nicely leading into his first up run tonight with Purton aboard and he's drawn the inside pole, which is a big advantage over the sprint trips on the B course. I'm expecting him to win.
Again, the inside barriers could come to the fore here. (8) All Best Friends looks a reasonable each way price at $8.00. He's drawn barrier 3 and should find a spot behind the leaders on the rail. He ran 2nd over this track and distance last time we saw him and he carries just 51.5kg tonight after the claim for Alfie Chan. (1) Lady First went awfully close in his first start in this class and he should run well again but the big negative for him is barrier 12. (7) Bullish Brother should be thereabouts.
This is a tough race and I won't be getting too involved here. Interested in both (4) Splendour And Gold and (8) All You Know at each way prices. Splendour And Gold racked up three wins at Sha Tin from six starts last season. This is his first go at Happy Valley but he's only lightly raced and has already shown plenty to suggest he may be able to take another step forward this season. At $7.50 he's an each way play. All You Know draws well and gets in light. He can pop up in these sorts of races and this is his pet track and distance so I wouldn't rule him out at $12.
Finishing off the night by backing Purton on (4) Jumbo Happiness. He went down first up over the 1000m here at the Valley last time we saw him. He's had nine weeks since that run and resumes over the 1200m tonight with Purton again taking the ride. This is the horse's pet track and distance but he'll need a good ride from a little bit of a tricky gate. I wouldn't be ruling out (5) Starlight fresh up from the inside barrier over his pet track and distance either. Competitive race though.
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