California Cible seeks first HK win

California Cible seeks first HK win

Happy Valley

Luke Middlebrook – On an even night of racing across the card on Wednesday at Happy Valley, the standout runner California Cible comes up in Race 8.

This progressive-looking four-year-old can score a first Hong Kong win for trainer Tony Cruz when he steps out in the Class 3 1200m Handicap.

California Cible is fourth-up in Hong Kong this week and looks all set to score after a slashing run into second place at this track and distance 17 days ago. The former Australian galloper, where he was a two-time winner from six over 1200m and 1400m, debuted a solid runner-up at Sha Tin before being ridden upside down second-up due to a wide barrier, from where he was used up on the lead.

Last start saw a change of tactics, whether by design or not as he drew wide and was slow to muster, forcing the jockey to position rearward.

Against the race shape, where the leader made all in running, California Cible stormed home late to miss by a neck. Up against a similar field with a few horses he beat home last start, while drawn well in barrier 4 with Joao Moreira taking over the reins, California Cible is the one to beat.

Keep an eye out for trainer Caspar Fownes’ debutant Jazz Angel as he looks one who can run well first-up. He has drawn wide in barrier 10, though, which may force them to ride for luck out the back.

Elsewhere, promising four-year-old Harmony Fire can get back to his winning ways when he contests the Class 3 1000m Handicap in Race 6.

Harmony Fire races third-up this week after finishing in the placings in both runs back from a three-month spell. First-up, he finished well into third place while he improved into second place last start at this track and distance 28 days ago, missing by a nose on the wire to the Zac Purton-ridden Harmony N Blessed.

This week, Purton will ride Harmony Fire for the first time in his short eight-start career, which has yielded three wins and as many placings. And that looks the winning move for the Douglas Whyte-trained youngster to bounce back for the win.


Vincent Ho guides Fa Fa to victory at Happy Valley last month. Photos: Kenneth Chan

Vincent Ho guides Fa Fa to victory at Happy valley last month. Photo: Kenneth Chan, SCMP


Race-by-Race Previews

Race 1: Telecom Missile well-placed and looks a chance in a race like this jumping from barrier 1 under Moreira. General Trump placed last start and looks a chance to run well again. Casa Kingdom making Class 5 debut and must be respected, trialled quietly without being tested recently and looks an improver here. One Step Ahead looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form, should map well from his low draw. Viva Mama changed trainer recently, trialled well. Gets Purton on but has drawn wide.

Race 2: Spicy Grill racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and should be hard to hold out from barrier 2. Melbourne Hall caught the eye last start when running home well, Purton gets down to the minimum weight to ride and they should be in the finish. Faribault has shown ability and gets his chance third-up here with O’Sullivan’s stable starting to fire. Good Beauty ran the second fastest sectional time last start and will map a chance. Regency Star looks well placed and can be placed at value after showing some ability.

Race 3: Fortune Carrier showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight to hold for third. If rated well, he can improve to win, but it’s a wide-open race. Compassion Spirit drops down in grade and is worth following – should be fighting out the finish with Purton electing to ride. Noir Rider can go on from the win two starts ago and given a chance here, can begin fast and map well from barrier 3. Telecom Rocket has a chance based on past form in this class of race. Kowloon East Star – go on solid previous effort where form looked okay.

Race 4: All Joyful racing in career-best form and must be rated a good chance again despite the wide draw. Will get back but can prove too strong late again. Winning Volatility poorly judged ride last start and can improve with Moreira taking over the reins. Murray’s Partners looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form but may not map as well as he did last start when he had every chance. Kungfumaster Panda ran the third fastest sectional time last start and is another from the O’Sullivan stable who will run well. Methane looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form.

Race 5: Party Warrior looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form. Raced on speed in a fast run race last start and was entitled to fade. Purton rides from a low draw here and he will get the most favours. A Smile Like Yours was an easy last start winner and must be respected now that penny has seemingly dropped. Good Shot last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss, just needs some luck from out wide. Here Comes Ted has ability and is always dangerous in this grade. Ares has ability and should not be underestimated in this grade.

Race 6: Harmony Fire nice 4yo with a good chance here third-up after two good placings. Has Purton in the saddle for the first time and meets a field where he stands out from the rest. Hard to beat. Heart Conquered faded late last start, chance to improve under right race shape. Resolute looks a chance if you go on previous consistent form and he will map a chance from the low gate. Propice caught the eye last start running home powerfully and is improving all the time. Escape Route from astute yard and watch betting support on debut.

Race 7: Sunny Star racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and at the bottom of the weights here second-up, with good speed on paper, he looks hard to hold out second-up. Telecom Fighters racing consistently of late and expect another big run returning to his preferred track and distance. Chancheng Prince racing in career-best form after easily winning his last two on the AWT, but boasts good turf form, nonetheless. Savaquin good performance when returning to form last start. The Rock last start placing was full of merit, nice effort, but has drawn wide.

Race 8: California Cible huge run last start and is the one to beat. Comes into a low draw, gets Moreira in the saddle and is ready to breakthrough for this first Hong Kong win. Classic Posh racing consistently of late and is expected to produce another big run – he is the main danger. Jazz Angel has trialled well on debut and should be rated a chance but will need some luck as he has drawn wide. Simply Fluke generally gets back in the running but dashes strongly home, look for him late in the piece. Hong Kong Bet had huge betting support last run and just failed to win; each-way claims here.

Race 9: Fa Fa nice 4yo who is in search of his fourth straight win. Has to carry more weight now but his turn-of-foot is strong and there is good speed on paper to suit him. Remains the hardest to beat. King’s Capital good performance when storming home for a nice second last start and is the next-best chance. Star Of Yuen Long last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss, had no luck in the straight and could surprise. Exceptional Nice remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here. Incanto Prepared goes well third-up from a break.


  Paul Lally: Mark McNamara: Andrew Le Jeune: Tom Wood: Luke Middlebrook
Race 1 3-2-7-10 10-7-3-5  7-5-3-1 3-10-2-5 8-9-1-12
Race 2 3-4-6-8 11-3-8-4  9-4-8-3 6-4-8-3 11-8-3-9
Race 3 3-1-4-6 1-2-5-4  10-1-5-8 2-4-1-6 4-1-5-2
Race 4 10-6-8-2 7-8-4-10  8-4-3-10 10-2-8-3 8-9-4-11
Race 5 4-1-5-10 10-4-5-1  12-5-10-4 4-10-5-6 4-5-11-1
Race 6 9-1-2-11 1-8-2-4  9-1-4-8 1-9-2-3 1-8-2-9
Race 7 9-7-2-11 2-11-4-7  6-7-2-10 2-4-6-1 11-2-10-4
Race 8 5-2-1-3 5-9-1-3  5-1-7-9 5-1-9-2 5-1-9-3
Race 9 2-5-10-11 10-2-5-1  2-5-1-7 2-1-5-7 2-5-8-7

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