02/06/2017 12:10PM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong Selections and analysis for Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS

(Wednesday February 8, 2017)

RACE 1: #3 Danewin Express, #9 Bliss Cartel, #7 Golden Partners, #10 This Is Gladiator
RACE 2: #4 Mr Kool, #2 Shining Champion, #11 Great Speed, #12 Intellectual Glide
RACE 3: #5 Grade One, #11 Ray Of Gold, #9 G-One Lover, #8 Rapidash
RACE 4: #2 Cour Valant, #1 Circuit King, #3 Powermax, #10 Clever Spirit
RACE 5: #1 Premium Champion, #10 Agiaal, #3 Super Form, #6 King Bountiful
RACE 6: #4 Flying Force, #10 Travel Successor, #3 Lang Tai Sing, #9 Our Hero
RACE 7: #11 World Record, #8 Victory Machine, #3 Bullish Smart, #1 Big Bang Bong
RACE 8: #5 Peace N Prosperity, #3 Lamarosa, #8 Victory Marvel, #1 Most Beautiful

RACE 1: BOWRINGTON HANDICAP

It has been a long fall through the ratings for #3 Danewin Express, who has gone winless in 34 Hong Kong starts since his arrival from Australia. This is his first run at Happy Valley since he dropped into Class 5, and he had some useful form at the city track in Class 4. Umberto Rispoli is a positive jockey change and he has an ideal draw in gate two, so perhaps this can be his chance to break through #9 Bliss Cartel is in a similar boat to Danewin Express, in that he has gone 24 starts without winning in Hong Kong. However, he has been a model of consistency and a win looks near. Gate 12 is a concern, though. #7 Golden Partners is nearing a win based on his recent runs, including a last-start second. His biggest drawback is that he can sometimes blow the start quite badly, and that’s something he can’t afford to do from the inside draw, but if he jumps reasonably he will be in the mix. #10 This Is Gladiator has not run since October, but he was good at his last start when just beaten. He’s getting down in the ratings and should be able to win soon.

RACE 2: CANAL HANDICAP

#4 Mr Kool disappointed at his first run for Chris So in December on the Sha Tin all-weather track but he now gets down to Class 5 and returns to Happy Valley, where he has a far superior record. Returning to 1200m looks a plus too, while the switch from Alvin Ng to Joao Moreira is monumental. This is his best chance to break through in quite some time. #2 Shining Champion is another class dropper. He has only run twice in Class 5 for one win and one third. He’s another one suited back to 1200m and he should be around the mark. #11 Great Speed has become incredibly frustrating to follow, hitting the board in 12 of his 33 starts without winning. He’s looked to be nearing a win for so long, but he lacks that killer instinct that should see him in the winners’ circle. Still, he’s a horse that must be included in all exotics. #12 Intellectual Glide is another who pops up every now and then, looking like he’s on the cusp of a victory, but he’s yet to break his Hong Kong maiden from 38 starts. He should get every favour in the run here so he is worthy of consideration again with the switch back to Happy Valley.

RACE 3: SPORTS ROAD HANDICAP

#5 Grade One really caught the eye on debut, just going down on the dirt to Bond Elegance. That effort was good enough to suggest that he will break through shortly and the booking of Zac Purton is a good sign too. Expect him to prove hard to beat, especially if he has taken natural improvement from that first run. #11 Ray Of Gold has had many problems over the years but he is an honest horse on his day. He’s never won up in Class 4 but his last run was good and Silvestre de Sousa is a positive rider change, especially from a good draw. #9 G-One Lover has not run since June due to a tendon injury but the son of Magnus was starting to find form towards the end of his campaign last season. He goes into this without a trial but he has looked good in the mornings and he can run a bold race fresh. Another going into this race first-up since June is #8 Rapidash, who has had just one trial to prepare him for this, an even effort on the dirt. He improved significantly from his first start to his second start, with Happy Valley appearing to suit, and don’t be surprised to see him finishing off strongly late.

RACE 4: SPORTS ROAD HANDICAP

There are three clear standouts in this race – the three horses at the top of the weights – but sorting them out is some task. #2 Cour Valant has won only two of his 42 starts and has not won since April 2014. This season alone, though, he’s finished second in three of his six starts and he’s never finished more than three lengths from the winner. A win is definitely coming soon off this mark, but he’s a horse that needs to be unleashed at the right time. If Derek Leung can hunt up behind the speed, rail up on the turn and then allow him to sprint, he should be right there at the finish. #1 Circuit King needs things to go his way out in front if he is to score. On the plus side, he does have Joao Moreira, but he also has barrier 12. Last time out, he also drew wide and was able to cross and lead at fairly moderate fractions, but he couldn’t match Breeders’ Star late. It could be a similar story here. #3 Powermax finally broke through last time out by a short head. He looks to have more upside, particularly if ridden slightly quieter, which he should be able to do from a kind draw here. The cheek pieces go on, too, so expect him to be around the mark. Next best, #10 Clever Spirit with the step back to 1200m.

RACE 5: THE CRAIGENGOWER CRICKET CLUB CHALLENGE CUP

#1 Premium Champion has been completely out of form, including a 21-length defeat behind Sky King on the dirt last time out. However, he drops into Class 4 for the first time, he steps up to the 2200m again, the blinkers have been reapplied and he gets the services of Joao Moreira. This looks like it has been his target for quite some time and he should prove hard to beat against this company. #10 Agiaal is now a nine-year-old and is nearing the end of his Hong Kong career, but he looks to still have one win left in him based on his last couple of runs. He drops back anyway so the wide gate isn’t too big a negative, it will be more about Keith Yeung timing his run just right. #3 Super Form won at big odds at Happy Valley to start his season, and has mixed his form since – he’s been good at three subsequent Happy Valley runs, but disappointing in three Sha Tin efforts. The return to the city track is a plus and he should see out this trip. #6 King Bountiful is a two-time course and distance winner who ran well last time out. He should be suited by getting a strong rider like Neil Callan aboard.

RACE 6: WONG NAI CHUNG HANDICAP

#4 Flying Force rarely runs a bad race and has been a model of consistency over the past year. He looks right on the cusp of a victory and, with Joao Moreira aboard from a good gate, this looks the perfect race for him to break through. #10 Travel Successor was poor last time out over the Sha Tin 1400m after running a half-length second behind Happy Bao Bei over this course and distance in early January. The switch to Douglas Whyte is a positive and he should get a good run in transit here from gate three. #3 Lang Tai Sing has only placed at Happy Valley once from eight starts at the city course, but he is near a rating where he should be able to do some damage again. For once, he’s drawn a good gate, too. #9 Our Hero might be in search of the class drop but his two runs at Happy Valley in October and November were satisfactory. He could improve without surprising.

RACE 7: THE VOLUNTEERS' CHALLENGE CUP

#11 World Record has been something of a revelation this season, placing at his last five starts, including two impressive victories. He now tackles Class 3 and Happy Valley for the first time, but the 1650m around here should suit him and he can continue his progression off a light weight. #8 Victory Machine ran a good race first time out in Hong Kong but has been very disappointing in three subsequent efforts at both courses. He gets Joao Moreira aboard from the inside gate, but would require some of the Brazilian’s magic if he is to get home. Still, the combination of Moore and John Moore is too lethal to discount completely. #3 Bullish Smart has been running well in recent weeks without breaking through. His last win came off a similar mark to what he finds himself on now, and while he is not one who will ever win a race stylishly, he has the capacity to grind his rivals into the ground here. #1 Big Bang Bong is hard to catch and Moreira jumps off to partner Victory Machine, but he has drawn well and he has kept stepping up this season. He’s a chance again.

RACE 8: WONG NAI CHUNG HANDICAP

#5 Peace N Prosperity has just run twice this season, finishing an even seventh fresh before closing off nicely for fourth last time out. His last win came off a mark of 77 (albeit in an extended band Class 2 where he carried 116 pounds) and he now finds himself on 75, so he’s capable of winning off this rating. His progression has been perfect and he’s taken a step forward in the mornings, so from the ideal draw of barrier three, he will be hard to beat. #3 Lamarosa can’t cop a break with his gates and has again drawn wide. He is a quirky horse but clearly talented and would probably be on top if not for the awkward barrier. #8 Victory Marvel has been running well without winning since getting to the middle of Class 3. From gate six, he should jump out and be somewhere near the speed and may prove hard to run down. #1 Most Beautiful was only beaten a neck last time out but finished fifth in a five-horse blanket finish. He is a horse who will soon need a step up in trip but he looks capable of winning over this distance and with the right run, he will be there at the business end.