03/05/2018 2:14PM

Streaking Ivictory steps up for Flame Tree Handicap


A three-race winning streak since mid-July has pushed Ivictory into tougher company in Hong Kong’s competitive handicap races.

Ivictory is unbeaten in two starts this year, and is likely to be favored in Wednesday’s $237,484 Flame Tree Handicap at six furlongs on turf at Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong. Ivictory certainly has the right connections in Hong Kong’s leading trainer and jockey: John Size and Joao Moreira.

To put Ivictory’s rise in the ratings in perspective, the Flame Tree Handicap is restricted to horses rated from 80 to 100, with the higher-rated horses carrying more weight. Ivictory was rated at 69 when the current winning streak began last July. After wins in six-furlong handicaps on Feb. 4 at Sha Tin and Feb. 21 at Happy Valley, Ivictory is currently rated at 95.

The top horses in Hong Kong have ratings in the high 120s.

A 4-year-old Australian-bred gelding, Ivictory will carry 128 pounds, five less than topweight My Darling, who has not raced since finishing sixth in a handicap last July.

Ivictory, who has won five of six starts in his career, tends to run from off the pace and is favorably drawn in post 6, which will allow Moreira to stalk the expected pacesetter in Fantastic Eight, who is winless in his last three starts.

The sharpest horse in the field is Blocker Dee, the winner of a six-furlong handicap on the all-weather surface at Sha Tin on Feb. 28. Blocker Dee is winless in 14 starts on turf since February 2017, a span that includes two second- and two third-place finishes.

The race will be a class test for Starlight, who will carry low weight of 107 pounds thanks to apprentice jockey Matt Poon’s seven-pound claim. Starlight won consecutive starts in September and October, but was sixth in a handicap in November in his most recent start.

Starlight broke from the rail in the race in November and was under pressure from the start. In the Flame Tree Handicap, Starlight will break from the outside in a field of seven.

The Flame Tree Handicap is the second of eight races at Happy Valley on a program that begins at 6:15 a.m., Eastern.