10/10/2016 4:15PM

Happy Cheers on the improve for Yew Handicap


Happy Cheers can win his first race in Hong Kong in the $159,196 Yew Handicap at six furlongs at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday.

There are reasons to expect a promising race for Happy Cheers, who is trained by Caspar Fownes. A 4-year-old Australian-bred gelding, Happy Cheers won twice in Australia last year when racing under the name Kallara Village. In his first start in Hong Kong, at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sept. 11, Happy Cheers closed from eighth in a field of 11 to finish third, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, in a six-furlong handicap.

That was his first start since last fall, and a promising debut last month is a good indication that further improvement is possible.

The Sept. 11 race had similar conditions to Wednesday’s handicap. Brett Pebble has the mount on Happy Cheers, who is part of a field of 12 and will carry 123 pounds. Go Baby Go, a 9-year-old gelding with eight wins, is the 133-pound highweight but has struggled of late, losing 15 races since May 2015.

The Yew Handicap is one of three $159,196 races on the eight-race Happy Valley program, which begins at 7:15 a.m. Pacific.

In the third race, the Larch Handicap at about a mile on turf, Fownes runs joint-topweight So Caffe, who has won two of his last three starts. Wednesday’s race will be the first for the 5-year-old So Caffe since a handicap at about a mile in June. So Caffe will carry 133 pounds.

Chater Legend and Little Island, who were second and fourth in a handicap on Sept. 21, and Mission Possible, a troubled 10th on Sept. 28, are capable of winning.

The fifth race is the JCI Hong Kong Senate Cup at about a mile on turf. The race drew a competitive field of 10, including last-race winners Cheerful Boy and Royal Partner. Cheerful Boy makes a quick turnaround from a win on Oct. 1. A 5-year-old gelding, Cheerful Boy has won two of his last four starts.

Royal Partner has an even quicker turnaround, having won at Sha Tin on Oct. 5. This is a jump in class for Royal Partner, who has won 6 of 68 races in his career.

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