01/23/2017 12:09PM

Andrew Hawkins' Hong Kong Selections and analysis for Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS
(Wednesday January 25, 2017)

RACE 1: #10 Perfect Smart, #9 Telecom Boom, #3 A Fast One, #7 Highland Dragon
RACE 2: #9 Bliss Cartel, #2 Speedy Wally, #6 High Speed Metro, #7 Silver Gatsby
RACE 3: #7 Andoyas, #4 Easy Hedge, #3 Istanbul Bey, #2 Sharp Sailor
RACE 4: #3 Smart Delight, #4 Never Better, #2 Circuit King, #5 Amazing Feeling
RACE 5: #11 Winning Boy, #1 Works Of Art, #9 Imperial Seal, #5 Good Choice
RACE 6: #7 Jumbo Happiness, #6 Gracydad, #11 Starlot, #5 Yo-Yo Da
RACE 7: #4 Happy Rocky, #2 Classic Emperor, #8 Apache Spirit, #1 Big Bang Bong
RACE 8: #11 Giant Stars, #8 Isaac, #6 Go Baby Go, #2 High Five
RACE 9: #2 Eastern Express, #5 Dynamism, #3 Santa Fe Sun, #1 Packing Llaregyb

RACE 1: EDINBURGH HANDICAP

#10 Perfect Smart’s sole Hong Kong win came over this course and distance. He started the season well with two placings before a poor effort in November. His return over the 1200m was nothing special either, but a drop back to 1000m should suit and he can win again. #9 Telecom Boom has also looked ready to win at numerous times this season. He needs speed on so he can run home, and he should get a suitable race here. #3 A Fast One has not stepped out since March due to a leg injury. He looks to be in good condition ahead of his return and it would not surprise to see him win fresh. #7 Highland Dragon is another resuming off a break, having his first run for trainer Gary Ng after having his last start for former handler Sean Woods in July. He does not win out of turn but this is his optimal course and distance and he is likely to be on song for this.

RACE 2: LAMBETH HANDICAP

The scratching of Safari Magic takes out one of the primary contenders for this race, and it’s an open contest otherwise. #9 Bliss Cartel has been racing consistently of late without winning. He looks to be on a mark now where he can salute and he will be breaking his Hong Kong maiden soon. #2 Speedy Wally jumps from the outside barrier for Joao Moreira and Caspar Fownes. The return to Class 5 is a positive, as is the return to Happy Valley, but he is a horse that can race fiercely and the gate may make it tough for him. #6 High Speed Metro is another who is racing in great heart currently. The 1650m is short of his best but he will be finding the line strongly late. #7 Silver Gatsby looks one of the only leaders from the inside gate and perhaps this is his chance to finally notch a victory.

RACE 3: MURRAY HANDICAP

#7 Andoyas has performed strongly throughout his Hong Kong career and it seems slightly surprising that he hasn’t broken through yet. His last run was good when he made steady ground into second behind Easy Hedge. He meets Easy Hedge eight pounds better at the weights and this looks his best chance yet of scoring an elusive success. #4 Easy Hedge had been slightly disappointing after looking a horse of promise early in his career, but the blinkers made all the difference last time out as he raced away for an easy victory. The 2200m may not be what he’s looking for, but on the strength of his last start effort he ranks as a major contender yet again. #3 Istanbul Bey is crying out for this sort of distance and can make his presence felt at just his fourth Hong Kong start. #2 Sharp Sailor was the beneficiary of a top Neil Callan ride last time out to score. If Callan gets a similar set-up again, he will be right in the thick of the finish.

RACE 4: CLUB STREET HANDICAP

In a race that looks difficult as is, it may be worth taking a chance with longshot #3 Smart Delight. The Kiwi import has done little since arriving, being beaten by big margins each time and facing a number of injury issues along the way. He is also temperamental, almost biting off the hand of one of his grooms after his debut. Still, he has shown talent in his trials and he looked quite useful in New Zealand. The grey also drops to Class 4 for the first time and makes his Happy Valley debut. It is possible that he finishes closer to last than first, but at the price, he’s worth a play. #4 Never Better is honest, rarely running a bad race. He’s drawn an ideal gate again and he should be right in the mix. #2 Circuit King is one-dimensional in that he needs to jump out and lead, or at the very least race handy on a soft tempo. With the drop back into Class 4 and Joao Moreira jumping aboard, he will likely be heavily fancied, but with the outside gate he might be worth taking on. #5 Amazing Feeling has been a disappointment, but he does get blinkers on here which could prove a crucial addition.

RACE 5: QUEENSWAY HANDICAP

#11 Winning Boy has been competitive at his last few starts since joining Richard Gibson, bar one failure at Sha Tin in November. He has drawn a good gate here and with no weight on his back, he’ll be hard to hold out. #1 Works Of Art is honest but is also very one-paced. A strong jockey aboard in Brett Prebble is a plus, but he’ll have to time his run just right. #9 Imperial Seal won last start under Joao Moreira at Sha Tin. It will have been a confidence booster and he doesn’t rise greatly in the weights, so he must be some chance again. #5 Good Choice would probably have been on top with a senior rider aboard, but instead he heads out for claimer Kei Chiong. He’s at the same mark of a narrow win earlier this season, but he might need to drop a little further before he wins again.

RACE 6: CLUB STREET HANDICAP

#7 Jumbo Happiness has learnt what the racing caper is about fairly quickly. He is still doing a few things wrong but he looks like he will be breaking through soon and he is worth following. #6 Gracydad has started short enough at his last four starts, including a hot 2.2 favourite last time out, but he hasn’t been able to get closer than third. A win is near, but at this point, it is worth taking him on at a likely short quote. #11 Starlot has been good enough in his first three starts and has shown enough potential to suggest he’ll be winning before he drops to Class 5. The blinkers come off here, which looks a positive move. #5 Yo-Yo Da has won his last two starts by going to the front under Oisin Murphy. There looks to be more speed here, especially drawn out wide, but he’s honest enough to be competitive again.

RACE 7: THE HONG KONG CLUB CHALLENGE CUP

#4 Happy Rocky returns to Happy Valley for the first time since April. The son of Champs Elysees, who already produced a 140-1 winner at Sha Tin on Sunday, has performed far better at the city circuit as opposed to Sha Tin throughout his career. Although the 1650m is on the short side, he should be ready to run a much improved race. #2 Classic Emperor will jump out and head towards the lead. He’s a fairly straightforward, honest type who draws a single-figure gate for the first time in four starts, and he will run another bold race. #8 Apache Spirit is quirky and needs everything to go right but the step back up to 1650m now should suit and he should be surging through late. #1 Big Bang Bong is proving difficult to catch and shapes as a horse worth opposing. Nevertheless, he is still some chance.

RACE 8: CONNAUGHT HANDICAP

#11 Giant Stars has looked capable of winning a number of times but is yet to break through in Hong Kong. His best chance appears to be with little weight on his back in Class 3, and he is coming off a good effort last time out. Alexis Badel is riding well and looks a good fit with the horse, who has to be saved up for one late burst, so expect him to be right in contention here. #8 Isaac has been very impressive at his last two starts and looks well suited stepping up to Class 3 but dropping 11 pounds. He gets Zac Purton aboard again from the inside gate and he will be very hard to beat. #6 Go Baby Go is a shadow of what he once was, but the stakes winner should be able to get the perfect run in transit here. Neil Callan was the last rider to win on him almost two years ago and he regains the ride, replacing Ben So. This might be his best chance for one last hurrah. #2 High Five is on the lowest mark he’s ever been in Hong Kong and returns to Happy Valley from a suitable low draw. He can bob up.

RACE 9: CHATER HANDICAP

#2 Eastern Express returns back to handicap conditions for the first time since he finished third in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1800m) in November, and even in that race he was well out of the handicaps. A fair sixth to Secret Weapon in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) was followed by an outclassed 10th in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) behind Satono Crown and Highland Reel. He makes his Happy Valley debut here and while 1800m would be more preferable, he is capable of figuring here off his current handicap mark. #5 Dynamism is racing well without winning, finishing in the top four at all five of his runs at the city track. He’s another who would be better suited over further, but he should still be around the mark. #3 Santa Fe Sun returns to Happy Valley for the first time since February, and a repeat of his second to Eagle Way last month would have him featuring here. Next best, #1 Packing Llaregyb, who hasn’t won since November 2014 but appears to be on the cusp of another victory.