12/05/2016 12:59PM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong Selections and analysis for Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Email

HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS
(Wednesday December 7, 2016)

RACE 1: #3 My Blessing, #2 King's Steed, #1 Fantasticlife, #4 Spicy Double
RACE 2: #3 Forever Red, #7 Moment Of Power, #5 E-Super, #1 Almababy
RACE 3: #11 Circuit King, #3 Love Shock, #6 Roundabout, #2 Iron Boy
RACE 4: #4 Premiere, #7 Powermax, #2 Top Bonus, #1 Secret Agent
RACE 5: #6 Giant Turtle, #4 Sparkling Sword, #8 True Comment, #5 Happy And Healthy
RACE 6: #1 Wonderful Fighter, #3 Cour Valant, #6 Kirov, #4 Junzi
RACE 7: #2 Works Of Art, #1 Kiram, #8 Graceful Kingdom, #5 Win It
RACE 8: #6 Super Fluke, #3 Beauty Prince, #12 Royal Partner, #10 Pearl Warm Warm
RACE 9: #7 Dynamism, #2 Winnie's Honey, #4 Solar Hei Hei, #1 Basic Trilogy

PREAMBLE: LONGINES INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

The LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship brings 12 of the world’s best riders together around one of the world’s most iconic tracks, Happy Valley. This year, eight jockeys from all over the world – Mickael Barzalona (representing France), Hugh Bowman (Australia), Mirco Demuro (Italy), Florent Geroux (USA), Gavin Lerena (South Africa), Ryan Moore (UK), Pat Smullen (Ireland) and Keita Tosaki (Japan) – will take on four of the best that the Hong Kong riding roster has to offer. Reigning Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira is joined by his predecessors as champion jockey, Zac Purton and Douglas Whyte, while Derek Leung represents Hong Kong’s homegrown riders. The LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship takes in races four, five, seven and eight, with the winning jockey in each race receiving 12 points, the jockey of the second-placed horse receiving six points and the rider on the third-placed galloper receiving four points. Whoever has the most points after the four legs is deemed the winner.

RACE 1: SOUTH AFRICA HANDICAP

The night kicks off with a very open Class 5 contest. #3 My Blessing has turned a corner at his last two starts. He is nearing a place in the ratings where he should be competitive and the booking of Zac Purton looks a plus. #2 King's Steed has just won the one race in 35 starts in Hong Kong but he is always around the mark in Class 5. From a good draw he should be near the speed and proving competitive at some point throughout. #1 Fantasticlife returns to Happy Valley for the first time with Caspar Fownes as his trainer, after racing there for former handlers Tony Cruz and Sean Woods. The five-year-old has been looking as good this season as ever, admittedly a low benchmark, but he is yet to prove that the 1650m is what he is really after. Still, in his current form, he must go in. Next best, #4 Spicy Double, who does get Joao Moreira but also has to contend with a tricky gate.

RACE 2: BRAZIL HANDICAP

This race looks to have a plethora of speed horses engaged, so it might be best to look for something sitting just behind them. That could fall to #3 Forever Red, who is nothing if not consistent. He has his first run since July here but looks to have been well-tuned for this with five solid trials, and he has not been out of training since the start of the season, so it seems that this race with the unusual 85-60 ratings stipulation has been his target for quite some time. Joao Moreira jumps aboard and from gate six he should trail the speed and then pounce at the top of the straight. He will take beating. #7 Moment Of Power was a good last-start winner to make it three wins from six starts. He is the likely favourite here but every time he has won, he has been on speed so he will be hoping that the expected pressure does not eventuate. #5 E-Super is working his way back to form and was quite good last time out, battling on well, while #1 Almababy is another who could be on the back of the speed and looks ripe for improvement.

RACE 3: ENGLAND HANDICAP

An intriguing race with most of the fancies drawing wide. #11 Circuit King could be the horse to cause something of a surprise here with his return to Happy Valley. The horse won here at the end of last season, but has been somewhat disappointing this season up in Class 3. He wasn’t hopeless last time, though, and he could press forward and prove hard to catch. It depends, though, on whether Master Viking presses on from the inside gate. #3 Love Shock is the likely favourite and a horse who looks like he will be heading far higher than his current mark of 75. He has been somewhat flat in two runs this season, but gets the blinkers here so is likely to be more switched on. He is a deserving favourite and the most likely winner, but at too short a quote, he may be worth taking on at his first try at Happy Valley and over a distance that still looks short of his best. #6 Roundabout ran on strongly last start and is likely to be hitting the line well again, while #2 Iron Boy is a consistent type who would probably rate higher if not for gate 11.

RACE 4: LONGINES INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS’ CHAMPIONSHIP HANDICAP (LEG 1)

The first race of the IJC looks a toss-up between two lightly-raced types, both with different racing styles. #4 Premiere has jumped out and led at three starts to date, but has knocked up all three times to finish second, fourth and second. The switch to Happy Valley looks interesting as he makes his first start around a bend, but sometimes speed can carry over this track and if Hugh Bowman can give him an easy run out in front, he is a major contender. #7 Powermax has only had one start, flying home from last to run third to Sunday’s impressive winner D B Pin. The stable is not in the best form, but the horse can likely settle closer from the inside gate and it looks Pat Smullen’s best chance of scoring points. #2 Top Bonus is having just his third run for Derek Cruz. He improved dramatically last time out back into Class 4 and from gate three, he’s in the mix for Mirco Demuro. For fourth, it’s a coin-flip between #1 Secret Agent and #9 St Yazin, both owned by Richard Hui. St Yazin has been in better recent form, winning two of his last three, but there is some concern that he might have hit his ratings peak and Secret Agent might be better suited here to sneak into the numbers for American rider Florent Geroux. The son of Sakhee’s Secret was also a winner on this night last year.

RACE 5: LONGINES INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS’ CHAMPIONSHIP HANDICAP (LEG 2)

After quite a storied Hong Kong career, at least by Class 4 standards, it seems the stars are about to align for #6 Giant Turtle. Trainer Tony Millard looks to have the horse peaking for this, Ryan Moore jumps aboard and he has drawn a plum gate in two. He maps perfectly and this looks his best chance to break his Hong Kong maiden. #4 Sparkling Sword is a very easy horse to ride – just go forward, lead at an even tempo and the horse does the rest. He has run third at his last three under apprentice Kei Chiong, and this could set up a very lucrative night for Florent Geroux if he can get into the placings here. #8 True Comment and #5 Happy And Healthy dead-heated in this race last year, and both look to be rounding into form at the right time. True Comment gets the benefit of Zac Purton and looks to be racing well this season, while Happy And Healthy gets last year’s IJC winner Gavin Lerena and appears ready to break through again.

RACE 6: FRANCE HANDICAP

#1 Wonderful Fighter has just his second run here this season after returning with a strong second to D B Pin. He had an injury-impacted season last year which restricted his campaign to three runs, but he is looking well again and if he is finally right, he is a horse who looks more than capable of breaking into Class 3. Perhaps assess how Powermax ran in the fourth race too before diving into anything too short. #3 Cour Valant is a frustrating horse. He has been looking a winner-in-waiting at numerous times over the last three seasons, but it is nearing three years since he last got his nose in front at the winning post. He was beaten by just a neck last time out and looks a sure winner at some point down in Class 4, but the gate does make it awkward here. #6 Kirov is racing well and goes in, while #4 Junzi has talent but needs a few things to go right for him in the run if he is to be in contention.

RACE 7: LONGINES INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS’ CHAMPIONSHIP HANDICAP (LEG 3)

#2 Works Of Art has always looked to have talent, but he has improved at a rate of knots this season. He was a disappointing 13th fresh, but improved to run third at big odds two back before winning comfortably last time out. He rises significantly in weight and will have to carry nine pounds more for Happy Valley novice Florent Geroux, but he should jump out and race handily and if he continues to improve as he has done already this season, he should break through into Class 3 here. #1 Kiram finished second last time to Works Of Art at his first run ever in Class 4. The significant weight swing in Kiram’s favour makes him a strong chance, as does the good draw in barrier two. He’s the one to beat for Hugh Bowman. #8 Graceful Kingdom has a few quirks but if he can jump out and race handily, he’s a chance for reigning IJC champion Gavin Lerena. Next best, #5 Win It under local representative Derek Leung, who is coming off a last-start victory.

RACE 8: LONGINES INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS’ CHAMPIONSHIP HANDICAP (LEG 4)

The final leg of the IJC is sure to be hotly contested and Australian rider Hugh Bowman looks to be in prime position here with #6 Super Fluke. The Derek Cruz-trained galloper has been in strong form for most of the calendar year, despite only winning once. He’s honest, he should race near the speed from gate four and Bowman’s style should be well suited to the son of Thewayyouare. His main danger appears #3 Beauty Prince, who has placed at his last two after opening his season with a win. He is another who has drawn well and he is able to lay up anywhere, so as long as Ryan Moore can have him comfortable from gate six, he’ll be in the mix. Veteran #12 Royal Partner has been racing honestly this season and should be suited from a better draw with a drop back to 1650m under Florent Geroux, while #10 Pearl Warm Warm should head towards the lead from gate two and prove a contender for Mickael Barzalona.

RACE 9: AUSTRALIA HANDICAP

Happy Valley’s biggest night closes with a strong Class 2 over 1800m. #7 Dynamism is one of the best-looking horses in Hong Kong, a flashy chestnut, but his win record doesn’t match with only one victory from 18 starts locally. The former German galloper has been in good recent form though, save for one poor effort at Sha Tin, and seems to appreciate the way races are run at Happy Valley. He has drawn awkwardly in 11, but if he can somehow get into a nice position he may be the play here. #2 Winnie's Honey couldn’t have been more impressive last time out, racing away for an effortless victory and showing a deft turn of foot too. He goes up plenty in the ratings but deservedly so and with a soft draw here, he looks the one to beat again. To be fair, a repeat of last start will see him win again. #4 Solar Hei Hei is very honest and while he might be nearing his ratings peak, his consistency ensures that he must be considered again. Next best, #1 Basic Trilogy, who gets Hugh Bowman aboard here. His last two, he has disappointed but from a far better draw, he can add value.