HONG Kong’s Happy Valley hosts eight races today, all of which look fiendishly difficult puzzles to solve.
A word of advice, don’t rush in on the short-priced favourites as this racecard will have form students scratching their heads.
From a handicapping point of view, you could throw a blanket over at least half-a-dozen horses in the majority of the races.
Although the action takes place on the ‘B’ course, one of the fairest at the inner-city track, statistics indicate that horses drawn low have a sizeable advantage over their rivals in six-furlong races.
In the three races over the extended mile, pause for thought if you fancy any horses drawn from nine to 12 as their record has been abysmal over the past three seasons.
It’s certainly been a good start to the new year for the thousands of Joao Moreira followers though.
The ‘Magic Man’ has visited the winners’ circle ten times since the beginning of the month and has now ridden 23 winners since he returned to the city in mid-December.
Another jockey grabbing the limelight is UK champion Silvestre de Sousa, who landed a treble at Sha Tin on Saturday and continues to impress the locals with his never-say-die attitude.
While both Moreira and De Sousa have been holding centre stage, current champion Zac Purton has been having a relatively quiet time.
Purton, who currently leads this season’s title race by a dozen winners, has only saluted the crowd a handful of times since New Year’s Day, and is surely due a change of fortune.
It’s a well-known fact that when Purton teams up with trainer Caspar Fownes, their contenders are always worth more than a second glance, and they pair up in five races at the Valley.
The partnership starts with Smart Baby, seeking a four-timer in the opener at 11.15am; next it’s the improving Family Leader, who has the draw and the step-up in distance in his favour in the 12.15pm; and then it’s Marvel Joy in the 12.45pm.
The latter has been disappointing this season, but is equipped with blinkers in the race for the first time.
Fownes initially tested him with the headgear last week and the result was him showing his quickest 800m gallop for a long time.
Both Purton and Fownes will be disappointed if SEVEN HEAVENS doesn’t provide the answer in a competitive handicap over six furlongs at 1.45pm.
This former UK galloper, who raced under the same name when winning twice for trainer John Gosden, bounced back to near his best when caught on the line from a tricky outside draw over track and trip in November.
He has since trialled impressively at Conghua in China and, with an inside draw in his favour, he should prove too good for principal threat Gamechangers.
The progressive GREEN LUCK is also worth following when he contests the finale over the extended mile at 2.50pm.
Having already won easily over the course and distance in November, he looks a horse that should prove better than his current handicap mark.
The added bonus is his main dangers, Happy Dragon and Bank On Red, have been given tough tasks from double figure draws.
Seven Heavens 1.45pm Happy Valley
Green Luck 2.50pm Happy Valley