Luke Middlebrook: Jockeys Joao Moreira and Zac Purton, unsurprisingly, appear to a have a stranglehold on Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting in Hong Kong.
Of Moreira’s book of seven rides across the night, facile debut winner ROMANTIC WARRIOR will pique a lot of interest in the Class 4 1200m Handicap in Race 6.
Dany Shum-trained ROMANTIC WARRIOR made his racetrack debut at this course and distance 35 days ago and could not have been more impressive in the manner in which he won after overcoming adversity.
Drawn widest in barrier No 12 under Moreira that night, ROMANTIC WARRIOR raced up with the speed three-wide and without cover throughout.
It helped that the tempo was only moderate, so he still had gas left in the tank when asked to sprint, which he did and kicked away to score comfortably by 1.50 lengths.
For a Class 4 race, the form since has been excellent, with the runner-up and fourth-place getter subsequently winning. Purton’s mount, TRADER, will likely give ROMANTIC WARRIOR the most work to do. From barrier No 2, Purton may be able to dictate on his own terms.
Elsewhere, in-form trainer Frankie Lor can get a win out of four-year-old LOYAL BABY in the Class 4 Handicap over 1650m in Race 4.
LOYAL BABY has been knocking on the door for a win since switching to the city circuit, finishing runner-up in his last two runs at this track and distance. The Irish import couldn’t cut it in Class 3 upon arrival in Hong Kong but is running up to his rating since sliding to 58 from 68.
Based on his narrow last-start defeat in which he went down 0.75 lengths, LOYAL BABY should be favoured to go one place better now that he’s fourth-up and Moreira sticking with him.
Race 1: We The South has a chance based on past form in this class of race and it looks as though Moreira picks this ride over a couple of others he’s had a bit to do with recently. Seizing The Moment turned in a very nice debut run and looks to have good ability and should be an improver second-up. Brilliant Fortune remains a maiden galloper but clearly gets a chance to win here. Ginson newcomer who has trialled well for debut and looks a chance if ready. Spontaneous is better than recent form indicates and can improve.
Race 2: Yee Cheong Warrior finished powerfully with fastest sectional time ranking last start, Purton goes on from the low draw and the rise in distance suits. He can breakthrough. Dr Winning racing well with excellent sectional time rankings and have to respect with Moreira jumping on for the first time. Nordic Warrior looks a solid good chance based on last start and he will map a chance. Happy Land blinkers added for this second Class 4 start and he can surprise. Ai One last run was better than it reads and do not dismiss.
Race 3: Amazing Boy has improved since the blinkers were added last start and he looks to map the winner from the draw here. Run The Table narrowly beaten last start and goes close here with some luck in running from out wide. All Best Friends last start winner who remains in the same grade, looks a chance again from barrier 1. Centenary Ibis well-placed and looks a chance in race like this after he went off favourite last start. Vector has early speed and can always surprise with the right run.
Race 4: Loyal Baby narrowly beaten last start and goes close here now that he’s fourth up and after finishing runner-up in his two runs at this track and distance. Faithful Trinity placed last start and looks a chance to run well again as he should map ideally from the low gate. Ernest Feeling looks overdue for a win and enters this race in good form but he has a wide draw to deal with. Zone D resuming from a break and trialled well recently, watch the betting here. Chater Pins looks well placed and can be placed at value after recent encouraging efforts, can surprise from barrier 1.
Race 5: Fire Ball should begin fast and will be trying to lead all the way from barrier 1 and his form is strong after the horse he finished runner-up to last start won again on Sunday at Sha Tin. Flaming Passion was an easy last start winner and must be respected now that the penny has dropped. Ka Ying Spirit has shown ability and gets his chance to win here. Hero Star showed good speed to lead last start and gave a good sight but barrier No 11 will prove harder here. Call Me Lu caught the eye last start running home powerfully, could surprise second-up.
Race 6: Romantic Warrior promising three-year-old who was an impressive debut winner at this track and distance 35 days ago and who is hard to beat again second-up. Trader is his main danger. From barrier No 2, he may be able to dictate on his own terms under Purton. Natural Gold has trialled well for debut and should be rated a chance, but watch the betting. Turbo Power good performance when storming home for third place last start. Melbourne Hall backing up quickly from last week, can run well from the low draw as he raced wide last week.
Race 7: Toronado Phantom nice three-year-old with a good chance here first-up from a break. He has looked good in his trials and appears to be able to outperform his current rating that he resumes on. Cheerful Days winner of last two starts and is a big chance here. Everyone’s Delight had no luck last start but keep following, just needs some early luck from out wide. Romantic Combo last start winner who rises in class but he has been placed on numerous occasions in this grade in the past. Yo Beauty best run to date was last start and appears to be improving.
Race 8: Tricky race but Sight Success is the winner of last two starts and looks to map well again and remains the hardest to beat. Drops Of God has shown ability and gets his chance to win here at his second try at Happy Valley. Winning Method turned in a nice effort last run when finishing strongly and will do the same here. Harmony Fire backing up quickly from last week, can run well at the bottom of the weights and he still has more to come it would seem. Scores Of Fun last start winner who rises in class but he jumps from barrier 1 under Purton and looks to be competitive from there.