Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns to Happy Valley for a nine-race programme on Wednesday.
As usual, the fields are ultra-competitive, but there are some good bets to be had across the card.
One of those is five-year-old gelding TRANSCENDENT in the Class 3 1200m in Race 8, who is looking to get on the board third-up this season.
TRANSCENDENT has returned in good order for this preparation, having placed in both runs back from a two-month spell. First-up in early September, the Tony Cruz-trained bay was dictated to by a wide draw at this track and distance, steadying early from gate No 10 but closing off hard and fast into third place.
Second-up, he jumped from barrier No 1 and settled midfield, doing his best work late to come home 1.25 lengths in second place after giving the winner a two-length start at the 400m.
TRANSCENDENT’s winning chances look strong as he again jumps from barrier No 1, which, along with barrier No 2, boasts the strongest wining strike rate at 16% for this course. There looks enough speed, on paper at least, for him to be getting his nose in front when it matters.
Another who has drawn ideally in barrier No 1 is last-start winner FORTUNE CARRIER in the Class 4 1200m in Race 7.
The penny dropped for the Danny Shum-trained FORTUNE CARRIER at this track and distance 28 days ago – his maiden victory in his seventh start.
Heavily backed into 1-1, jockey Zac Purton gave him a perfect ride to score comfortably by a neck. Having trialled in good order in between runs, and with many of his key rivals have drawn awkwardly, FORTUNE CARRIER looks on song to get up again.
Race 1: Savvy Kingman looks the one to beat based on current form. Ran very well first-up against the race shape and should relish the 1800m second-up at this stage of his career. Methane overdue for a win, after finishing runner-up in his last four runs, and enters this race in good form. Red Elysees finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start. Joy Master last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss on the quick back up. Murray’s Partners goes well second-up from a break and should be respected.
Race 2: M M Johnny had genuine excuses last start and consider again. It was a good run for the new stable and he’s worth following second-up with Purton riding. On Excel Star changed trainer and trialled very well recently. Expect a big run as he drops into Class 5 for the first time. Seize The Spirit video replay showed last run was very good and he’s always a chance in a race like this. This Is Charisma ran the second fastest sectional time last start and may be the outsider chance. Anonyma can give some cheek out in front from the low draw.
Race 3: My My My resuming from a break and trialled well recently. An open contest, but many of Franie Lor’s have come back better this term and worth taking a punt on him here. Faribault a last start winner who trialled well since. Jumps from barrier 10, but it’s 1000m with only one turn. He can win again. Noir Rider recent runs have been encouraging and can run well; however, he will likely be over-bet with Purton riding. Happy Good Guys has ability and is always dangerous in this grade. Happy Tango looks a solid good chance based on last start and he’ll be thereabouts.
Race 4: Yoo Yoo King comes out of a strong form race which was his first run for the Millard stable. Has since trialled well and can get on the board. World Famous narrowly beaten last start and goes close here if left alone on the lead. Superbella had excuses when not suited by a slow early speed last start, but still ran well. Should be more competitive second-up here. Turin Redstar well supported last start and won accordingly when first-up for a new yard, questions remain if he can repeat the dose. Wealthy Delight every chance last start but still ran a good race.
Race 5: Good Shot change of trainer recently (D J Hall to A S Cruz) and can improve. Won’t be missed with Purton booked, but he looks to have taken good improvement with a change of environment. A Smile Like Yours had genuine excuses last start and consider again. Aurora Pegasus last run suggested a win was very near and he’ll have his chance from barrier 1. Winmore Star resuming from a break and won a recent trial with blinkers on, looks an improver. Happy Time changed stables recently and has improved.
Race 6: Nunchuks good performance when storming home for third place last start and second-up to his preferred distance here, while drawn in barrier 1, can see him score. Chater Pins improving type and getting close to a win, but needs a clean getaway. Faithful Trinity finished a neck into third first-up last start and looks a chance to go close again. Smart Wongchoy remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here. Ernest Feeling looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form if he’s fit enough first-up at this distance.
Race 7: Fortune Carrier well backed into an even-money favourite last start and got the job done. He has since trialled well and from barrier 1, he looks to take a power of beating again. Xponential narrowly beaten last start to Fortune Carrier and goes close here. Great Harvest racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance, but the wide barrier is awkward. Here Comes Ted drops down in grade and start following, more than capable with some luck in running. Little Thunder has the services of a top jockey today and must be respected.
Race 8: Transcendent last run suggests a win was very near and third-up now, while drawn perfectly in barrier 1, can prove him too strong late in a race where there does seem some decent pace. Jolly Good Heart faded late last start in a fast run race, chance to improve under right race shape. Kinda Cool racing well with good sectional time rankings recently and he’s always a chance in a race like this. Spontaneous recent barrier trial was good and he’ll be better suited second-up returning to the turf track. Classic Posh last start winner who remains in the same grade.
Race 9: Telecom Fighters track and distance specialist and appears suited here with Moreira in the saddle and off the back of a solid run over 1400m at Sha Tin first-up. Drawn well and makes his own luck on-pace. Highland Fortune was not disgraced last start when beaten by an up-and-comer in C P Brave. Looks the next-best winning chance. Rattan drops down in grade and start following. At his best, he would be ultra-competitive here. Not Usual Talent drops back from Group race and looks a good chance. Green Luck goes well first-up from a break and he may be a great price with Alfie Chan riding.