Racing

Start the day with Highland Dragon

Hong Kong (Happy Valley) preview

RACE 1 (1,000M)

It has been more than two years since leading rider Joao Moreira partnered a Gary Ng-trained horse to victory, but 7 HIGHLAND DRAGON looks capable of ending that drought. He rarely runs a bad race over this course and distance, and though has not raced since April, he looks capable of figuring with the right run.

4 SPARKLING TALENT snared his maiden win in Hong Kong with a first-up score in November over this course and distance. With a kinder draw here than at his most recent runs, he can figure.

3 KIM GLORY has not raced since January. He returns to his original trainer Me Tsui now, having spent two seasons with Derek Cruz, and with Jack Wong's claim coming into play, he looks well-treated in the handicap. He will be around the mark.

1 RUGBY DIAMOND's two wins have come when he has led from gate to wire, but at his last two starts, he has bombed the start badly. On both occasions, he has run well, too. If he can jump with them, he's the one to beat; otherwise, though, he's worth taking on.

RACE 2 (1,650M)

3 WINNING VIBE has had two runs for Chris So since arriving in his yard, with the galloper's last effort a big step up on his first effort. The five-year-old now drops into Class 5, with Olivier Doleuze a significant jockey upgrade. This looks his chance to get on the scoreboard.

1 GOBI STORM produced two good efforts over this course and distance at the bottom of Class 4, but he has been unraced since a disappointing effort in March. He gets his first crack at Class 5 here and if he has ironed out some of the quirks he has shown this season, then he is a big contender.

6 PLANET GIANT finally got a second win on the board over this course and distance last start, racing away for a comprehensive three-and-a-half length victory. Matthew Poon's 10-pound claim means that he only has to carry one more pound than he did last time out and he will be in the mix again.

7 PLAIN BLUEBANNER has had a break since February. He finds the extended mile at the upper range of his stamina limits, but he is honest enough to break into the placings here, especially with a likely good run in transit.

RACE 3 (1,200M)

9 GOLDEN DEER has really struggled for a good gate at Happy Valley this season, with five double-digit gates from six starts at the city track. He's now drawn gate two, and he's at a mark almost 40 points below his career peak. If he can find his best, he can return to the winners' circle for the first time in almost two-and-a-half years here.

10 CONFUCIUS SPIRIT was underestimated by the market last time out, but managed to charge into second behind Master Viking. It's unlikely he will be underestimated this time around, and he's another chance in an open race.

6 NASHASHUK was forced to race very wide last time out and weakened noticeably. He should get a more favourable run for Joao Moreira from gate four and he's one to consider.

5 PHANTOM FALCON is a debutant who will likely need time. However, he has performed OK in his trials and a big run under apprentice Dylan Mo wouldn't entirely shock.

RACE 4 (1,800M)

There is no doubt 2 FANCY MUSIC has talent, but he is also remarkably quirky. He has been getting a long way back in his races, finding himself outpaced on the turn before somehow picking up again late. Perhaps the different dynamic of a Happy Valley 1,800m could switch him on.

1 KING OF MONGOLIA was well-beaten last week up in grade, but the drop down to Class 4 could be the catalyst for improvement. The switch to Neil Callan is a major positive and he must be included.

8 KING WINSA has found his feet this preparation to record three wins and four top-four finishes from seven starts. His last run indicated that he still has more in store and perhaps he can win again here.

10 BO DUKE won two races earlier this season. But he has been average since. The return to the Happy Valley 1,800m with Moreira booked, suggests that he will be primed for this.

RACE 5 (1,200M)

8 NAVAS has shown glimpses of the form that allowed him to break through at start two earlier this season. He does get blinkers here, as well as Jack Wong aboard from the inside gate, so if he can settle just behind the speed and not overrace, he can return to the winners' circle.

2 LUCKY WAN FENG was a good winner over the Sha Tin 1,200m in January but has been fairly plain in three runs since. The switch to Happy Valley might just be what he needs to come to life.

4 FANTASTIC FEELING doesn't win out of turn but he did manage to score again at his last start in early May. With 131 pounds on his back, the horse looks well suited.

6 WAYFOONG VINNIE is a frustrating galloper to follow, but with Joao Moreira back in the saddle, maybe he could sneak into the placings again.

RACE 6 (1,650M)

It is tough to tell whether 7 CONTRIBUTION has simply been the victim of poor rides or whether he is simply no good. He strikes a race that may potentially have more pace, but with Zac Purton aboard from gate one, expect him to push towards the lead and prove hard to run down.

3 IMPERIAL GALLANTRY is a difficult horse at times, but he does get Joao Moreira aboard here and the switch back to Happy Valley should suit him now he is back in Class 4.

2 GO GO WIN will likely try to push forward but it's been more than two years since he won a race and he is unlikely to get those little things to suit here that he needs if he is to score.

9 WIN FOR CHARITY improved at big odds to run a good third last start. While the five-year-old needs to prove his third wasn't a fluke, he should be able to take another step forward here.

RACE 7 (1,200M)

5 POWERMAX has been a model of consistency this season with three wins and five further top-four finishes from eight starts. He is fairly straightforward in that he will roll forward from the wide gate. He looks capable of winning another race.

10 MR PICASSO, on the other hand, is far from straightforward. A quirky type, he has the talent to win off his current mark but he is often his own worst enemy. If he can fire after a good run in transit, then he will be right in the finish.

1 HARRIER JET returns to Class 3 after three lacklustre runs up in grade. His efforts in Class 3 earlier in the season were solid, so he deserves consideration here.

3 JOLLY CONVERGENCE has been mixing his form but his last run suggests that a win is near. Gate 12 does make it awkward, though.

RACE 8 (1,650M)

9 SUPER SPRINTER has been good in two runs back from a freshen-up, striding out near the lead before just succumbing late. He should be even fitter now, and if he gets a comfortable enough run, he will be hard to pass.

2 STAR MAJESTIC is a tough, honest conveyance, who has probably just been slightly too high in the ratings this season. He is a five-time course and distance winner. Joao Moreira returns to his back for the first time in more than 18 months and he looms as a big danger.

1 BULLISH SMART returns to Class 3 now, the grade in which he was a course and distance winner in February. He is honest, so is sure to be around the mark somewhere.

3 LAND GRANT is racing well currently, but he just needs a few things to fall his way to score that elusive victory. Still, expect him to be in the finish.

COMMENTS BY ANDREW HAWKINS, COURTESY OF THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB

 

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