Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing returns to Happy Valley for a nine-race programme on Wednesday, with Race 6, the Class 3 1000m Longines Cup Handicap over 1000m, the feature race on the night.
The card boasts some progressive sorts, with four-year-old FA FA vying for a hat-trick of wins in the Class 3 1650m Handicap, the final event of the night.
Frankie Lor-trained FA FA returned from a three-month break in style at this track and distance 35 days ago – his first run as a four-year-old. Jumping a well-backed $1.9 market elect, FA FA never looked in doubt as he produced his trademark turn-of-foot in the straight to score by a narrow, but convincing neck margin.
The up-and-comer now boasts an impressive résumé of three wins and a second from seven career starts and clearly looks to have more ratings points up his sleeve.
Elsewhere, red-hot jockey Zac Purton can go one place better on the Dennis Yip-trained STORMTROUPER in the Class 4 1200m Handicap in Race 7.
STORMTROUPER is at his seventh time of trying but his last two starts, when finding a minor placing on each occasion, suggest he is nearing a win.
Two starts ago, STORMTROUPER charged home late into third place before resting for two months in the summer break. Proving the improved effort was no fluke, STORMTROUPER resumed at this track and distance 35 days ago, jumping a $3.8 market elect but missing by 0.75 lengths on the line after he was held up from the 300m to the 200m.
STORMTROUPER has since trialled strongly in between runs, jumps from a statistically favoured barrier No 1 and finds a race where there appears ample speed engaged to suit his pattern. He looks the bet of the night.
Race 1: Alloy King drawn well here and should be in the finish second-up from a break while many of his main rivals have drawn awkwardly. Fantastic Fabio has ability and is always dangerous in this grade, but he needs some luck from a wide draw. Goodmanship down in class in this race and should perform better with Moreira in the saddle. Mudita down in class here and can surprise from the low draw. Sunny Smile ran the third fastest sectional time last start, could surprise at an each-way price in a race like this.
Race 2: Viva Popcorn looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Go Ballistic last start winner who retains good form and can run well again from the low draw. Super Kin go on solid previous efforts where form looked okay, chance to improve with Moreira in the saddle. Off The Reel will win in this grade very soon and keep safe in the numbers. Bond A Star finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start and could surprise at an each-way price.
Race 3: New Future has ability and is always dangerous in this grade. First-up off a nice, quiet trial and has drawn low to map well. Happily Friends fair run last start and place chance second-up from a break. Happy Time go on the win two starts ago and give a chance here. With a better-timed ride, he can improve to place. Ares goes well first-up from a break and should be respected, just needs some luck from the wide draw. Trader has early speed and can always surprise with the right run but his stamina is questionable.
Race 4: Romantic Warrior newcomer who has trialled well for debut who will be favoured to score first-up, just needs some luck from the wide draw. Prance Dragon made up ground last start in a slow run race, can run well from the low draw here. Universal Go Go caught the eye last start running home powerfully. Great Harvest looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form, can improve. Destin generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home and is racing in good form.
Race 5: Red Majesty racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance to win again. Jumps from a low draw and can dictate on his own terms. Hard to beat. All Joyful rising in class and meets better quality horses but can measure up after winning easily in Class 5 last time. Sun Of Makfi will be suited by the rise in distance and can run well returning to his preferred track and distance. Oriental Amigo ran the fourth fastest sectional time last start and looks an each-way chance. Manna From Heaven had excuses last start when racing wide without cover, could improve.
Race 6: Harmony N Blessed was an easy last start winner and looks hard to beat again, albeit this is a race with quite a few chances. Harmony Fire nice horse who is a model of consistency and looks a chance to improve on his last start third placing. Resolute racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance again. Brilliant Fortune remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here but needs a good steer from barrier 10. Triple Triple video replay showed last run was very good after he was well-backed but lost ground at the start but made up good ground late.
Race 7: Stormtrouper looks the one to beat based on current form after narrowly missing last start. Has since turned in a strong trial, jumps from a low draw here and can breakthrough for a win. Good Shot faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape second-up after a stable change. Lucky Maryknoll racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance but has drawn wide and needs luck. Noble Desire had excuses last start when racing wide without cover, can improve second-up. Touch Faith strong trainer and jockey combination
Race 8: Decisive Twelve should begin fast and will be trying to lead all the way after he was used up on the lead last start, give another chance. Ever Force has shown ability and gets his chance to win here first-up from barrier 1. Diamond Brilliant had excuses last start when racing wide without cover, should get a much better run in transit from barrier 4 under Purton. Hurry Hurry Gain has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. Wood On Fire last start winner who rises in class, but can measure up.
Race 9: Fa Fa nice four-year-old who can score a hat-trick of wins here after winning his last two races in stylish manner. Hard to beat. Harmony Spirit looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form, improving all the time and getting close to a win. Meaningful Star well supported last start and won accordingly, will get his chance again from barrier 1. Surreal- ism last run suggested a win was very near, each-way claims. Total Power goes well first-up from a break and should be respected.