01/31/2017 11:52AM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong Selections and analysis for Thursday, February 2, 2017

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HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS

(Thursday February 2, 2017)

RACE 1: #1 Excel Oneself, #7 Paddington, #5 Bear Chum, #2 Beauty Connection
RACE 2: #1 Garlic Yeah, #5 Malayan Pearl, #7 Telephatia, #12 Win Chance
RACE 3: #2 Wisky, #7 Winaswewish, #1 Go Go Win, #3 Golden Achiever
RACE 4: #4 Sparkling Sword, #6 Everest, #2 Argentum, #12 Cash Courier
RACE 5: #6 Young Empire, #4 Kirov, #2 Speedy Achiever, #5 Game Of Fun
RACE 6: #9 Thor The Greatest, #3 Premiere, #7 Both Lucky, #2 Charity Glory
RACE 7: #5 Love Shock, #2 Back In Black, #1 Divine Boy, #8 Green Card
RACE 8: #10 Giant Turtle, #11 The Sylph, #4 California Joy, #2 Beauty Prince

RACE 1: SHING YIP HANDICAP

#1 Excel Oneself is an underrated gelding who gets into a more suitable race here. He wasn’t disgraced at his first run back in Class 4, just being swamped in the concluding stages over a questionable 1650m, before a disappointing effort at Sha Tin last time out. The 1200m would be more suitable but he still shapes as a winning chance in a race that lacks depth, especially if Nash Rawiller decides to take a trail behind the speedy types drawn either side of him, Ocean Roar and Lyric Ace. #7 Paddington really caught the eye on debut, rocketing home for third at 89/1 after sitting wide the trip near the rear. He will be improved for the effort and he does get Joao Moreira aboard, but he is unlikely to be any great price. He looks the hardest to beat. #5 Bear Chum finished just in front of Paddington last time out after saving ground on the turn. The 1000m is his trip and he should get all favours from gate three. #2 Beauty Connection should also get a perfect trip and he is a chance if he can put it all together.

RACE 2: YUE MAN HANDICAP

A rare Class 5 over the 2200m, and with few leaders engaged, expect this race to change complexion a couple of times mid-contest. #1 Garlic Yeah has looked a typical Hong Kong project to date, taking time to acclimatise and racing over distances short of his best at first before steadily improving to a point where he was able to break through last time out. He’s a small horse and still looks to be approaching his peak, but it was a nice style of win and he looks capable of winning again if he sees out the trip. #5 Malayan Pearl is one of only three horses in this field to have won over this trip, but that win came with a dead heat victory at Sha Tin in May. He has been racing well at the city track this term and has been crying out for the added distance, so with a favourable draw and in-form Sam Clipperton aboard, he’s some chance. #7 Telephatia is a course and distance winner who has also drawn well. He is on a rating now where he should be able to do some damage. His stablemate #12 Win Chance is always a chance in these sorts of races and he carries only 114 pounds from the inside draw.

RACE 3: WAI YIP HANDICAP

#2 Wisky is winless from four runs this campaign, but has been luckless on a number of occasions and should have won his way into Class 3 by now. He’s drawn to get the right run here with Joao Moreira aboard and this might finally be his time to break through for the term. #7 Winaswewish has been very consistent this season since finally getting his maiden win in Class 5 earlier this season. The 1650m may be slightly too short but expect him to be getting into the race late. #1 Go Go Win is another who is yet to win this term but who should really have broken through before now. The barrier might make it a little tough but it also might force him to roll forward in a race that only has moderate speed, and that’s probably his best chance of winning. #3 Golden Achiever should get a good run just behind the speed and based on his last run, he’s nearing a victory.

RACE 4: WAI YIP HANDICAP

#4 Sparkling Sword is a very straightforward horse – he jumps, he leads, he runs them along and he tries to stick on at the end. He’s only won three of his 44 starts but he’s hit the board 19 times, so he has a 50% top-four rate – very honest for a Class 4 horse in a tough environment like Hong Kong. Straightforward horse plus Joao Moreira should be a winning formula, but the Magic Man has only won three of his six rides atop the son of Danzero. Still, the way the horse is going at the moment, he should be going very close here. #6 Everest has placed at his last three attempts over the Sha Tin 1400m. The form around him looks very solid and the Happy Valley 1650m shapes as though it will suit. He’ll be running at Sparkling Sword late. The grey #2 Argentum returns to Happy Valley where he has a 0-from-8 record and where he once broke free from the parade ring and tried to run into the weighing room. Those dramas came in his acclimatisation days, though, and if he runs to his best he’s a chance from a good draw. #12 Cash Courier ran well last time out down in Class 5 and now finds himself back up in class. He’s yet to run a place in Class 4 but with a soft draw he can find himself running into the minor money under Silvestre de Sousa.

RACE 5: SHUI WO HANDICAP

#6 Young Empire is yet to live up to the form that saw him defeat 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold by nearly three lengths in a maiden at York in May, 2015. He’s been disappointing in missing the board in 10 Hong Kong starts and his last run was uninspiring, however he has trialled well at the city track since and he has looked a different horse in the mornings. He looks ready to break through – if not now, then very shortly. #4 Kirov was luckless on the dirt last time out, going to the line effectively untouched. He returns to the turf and to Happy Valley, the scene of his most recent victory in October. The gate is slightly awkward but he is in better form than it looks on paper and a win wouldn’t shock. #2 Speedy Achiever looks capable of breaking through at the top of Class 4 if he gets all the breaks, and he does have a more favourable draw here than last time out. #5 Game Of Fun continues to run well without winning but he looks a horse worth taking on if he is too short in the market.

RACE 6: HOI YUEN HANDICAP

#9 Thor The Greatest performed admirably when just collared by Ace King and Super Wise last time out. He’s yet to win at Happy Valley but he’s also never run a bad race at the city track and from the inside gate, he should be able to settle just behind what looks a fairly strong tempo #3 Premiere deserved every bit of his 11-point rise in the ratings after an effortless three and a half length win last time out. This means that he’s gone up 19 points in two starts, tough in anyone’s book. Still, he looks to have further upside and as long as he doesn’t end up in a speed battle, he’ll be hard to beat. #7 Both Lucky might still need to drop further to get another win but his last two efforts have been good enough to challenge here, while #2 Charity Glory has run some good races this season and would not surprise.

RACE 7: HUNG TO HANDICAP

#5 Love Shock was easily beaten but was not disgraced in second behind California Whip on the dirt last time out. The return to Happy Valley looks a big positive, he’s drawn well and he looks capable of winning once again. #2 Back In Black returns to Happy Valley and to a course and distance where he’s won five times and finished in the top four another five times from 14 starts. He’s drawn well and strikes the most suitable race he’s faced this season. #1 Divine Boy has been all over the place in terms of his distances this season but he’s proven to be a pretty handy sprinter. This included finishing fourth in the HKG2 Sprint Cup last season behind Lucky Bubbles and Amazing Kids and seventh in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize behind Chautauqua, both times at set weights and both times finishing just over four lengths from the winner. He’s always performed well at Happy Valley and an improved showing would not shock. #8 Green Card finished second last time out, albeit a long way from Beat The Clock. He’s still a bit quirky but can finish around the money.

RACE 8: MUT WAH HANDICAP

#10 Giant Turtle has now won two on end in easy style after dropping a long way in the ratings at his first few Hong Kong starts. He is now looking again like the horse that ran second to Kiwi star Mongolian Khan as a three-year-old. He’s drawn well and gets a drop of 12 pounds in the weights to offset the rise in class. He’s the one to beat. #11 The Sylph is a frustrating horse in that he’s won only one of his 29 Hong Kong starts, but he is forever around the mark, having hit the board a further 13 times. The bottom of Class 3 might just find him out, but he should still be somewhere in the mix, especially with the kind draw. #4 California Joy is on a BMW Hong Kong Derby path after returning to form last time out with a soft victory. He needs to prove he can back it up but he should get a nice run in transit again. #2 Beauty Prince is another reluctant winner who is honest enough that he finds himself near the top of the grade, despite only one win in 18 Hong Kong starts. He should go close under Zac Purton.