Bear Rapper can get the right run
Hong Kong (Happy Valley) preview
RACE 1 (1,000M)
Seven of these come out of a race over the course and distance four weeks ago and, while it looks a key form race, expect a different outcome here.
4 INVISIBLE finished 11th that day, but he was checked shortly after the start before blundering badly. He was never in the race and a line should be drawn through the run. If he can avoid early trouble this time, he will be hard to beat in the cellar grade.
1 RUGBY DIAMOND was another who can be forgiven for his effort that day, the noted front-runner missing the start by eight lengths before flying home to be beaten only a length and a quarter in seventh. He will be hard to beat, if he begins well and puts himself on the speed.
10 ORIENTAL FANTASIA won that race in mid-April, enjoying the light impost of 109 pounds (49.5kg) and the unexpected lack of speed to record a tough victory. He carries 117 pounds here after Jack Wong's claim, but he is capable of sitting just off the speed and getting himself into the money.
8 SEVEN LUCK improved significantly for fifth in that contest, before running seventh over 1,200m last week. He can sneak into the placings.
RACE 2 (1,200M)
1 BEAR RAPPER gets the drop in grade here after finding Class 3 too rich. He looked strong in a barrier trial last Friday on the Sha Tin dirt and, while he has won on the dirt before, he is also a course-and-distance victor too. With the right run from gate 10, he can fire under Sam Clipperton.
3 SUNNY ORIENT was ridden by Clipperton last start when he flew home for second. He's at a mark where he can break through, with Chad Schofield taking the reins.
10 SMART SALUTE was given a plum ride by Matthew Chadwick last time out, with the horse just failing by a neck to reel in Young Empire. He should get a cosy run from the inside gate with the injured Chadwick replaced by Vincent Ho. If he can reproduce that effort, he will be going close.
9 BRIGHT STAR appears to be heading for a drop in class, but he is capable on his day and is worth consideration at odds.
RACE 3 (1,200M)
The drums were beating loudly about 2 RESPLENDENT GLORY before his return - at what was also his debut for trainer Tony Millard - and he didn't disappoint with his length-and-a-half success. He has drawn well in gate 4 and he looks more than capable of holding his own up in grade based on his last win, so this is his chance to put himself up into Class 3.
3 MASTER STEED was heavily supported in his last start at Sha Tin but could only run home fairly for fourth. He is worth another chance here, as he is liable to bob up at any time off his current rating.
4 HOT HOT PEPPER is honest, but he is often ridden for speed and he isn't strong enough to hold on late. The switch back to Neil Callan, who rode him three times last season, might be just what he needs.
11 THE FULL BLOOM is too inconsistent to have on top, but the switch back to the Happy Valley 1,200m looks an intriguing move with only 118 pounds on his back and he can figure.
RACE 4 (1,650M)
11 SICHUAN BOSS looked as though he would take quite a fair while to acclimatise through his first four starts, but his last effort was fairly good under Alex Lai over the Sha Tin 1,200m. Chad Schofield now jumps on from a good gate and, with only 117 pounds on his back, he looks a live chance with the switch to the Happy Valley 1,650m.
6 JADE FORTUNE has been racing honestly without winning. He has a plum draw here and this looks his best chance of getting that elusive victory.
Lai has stuck solid with 9 HAPPY LIFE, who ran on solidly for third last time out. Getting up to 1,650m suits and, with the inside draw, he ranks as some chance yet again.
1 PHOTON WILLIE showed a hint of his old form last time out with a return to Happy Valley. He needs everything to go his way, as always, but he is one to include in exotics.
RACE 5 (1,650M)
6 GREAT JOY is still putting it all together but his last four runs have all suggested that he is right on the cusp of breaking through. He was a good sixth in his first run in almost three months over an unsuitable 1,400m, before charging into third last time out against the race pattern. He has drawn gate 12, but he will go back anyway, so it won't be too much of a disadvantage. He should be breaking through here.
4 CONTRIBUTION stepped up to the extended mile last start and under a heady Joao Moreira ride out in front, he never looked like being beaten. Kei Chiong replaces Moreira but, from the good gate, he should be setting the fractions and proving hard to run down.
2 NEVER BETTER is honest but he finds wins hard to come by. Expect another genuine effort, although he is probably more a place chance.
12 KWAICHUNG BROTHERS has come to hand since switching to Happy Valley. He now steps up to 1,650m, which should suit him and, while he might be looking for Class 5, he's worth inclusion here.
RACE 6 (1,200M)
8 ROMAN ODYSSEY had impressed in two starts over the straight 1,000m, but he raced closer to the speed with the step-up to 1,200m at Sha Tin last time out and he couldn't see it through. He has the inside gate here with Zac Purton up, so it wouldn't surprise to see him settle perhaps midfield on the rail and that should allow him to finish off strongly.
10 POWERMAX has drawn the outside gate of 12, which does make jockey Neil Callan's job tough. He is yet to miss a top-four berth in seven starts, however, and with any sort of run, he will get into the money.
The penny has dropped for 4 PERPETUAL JOYANCE in his last five starts, impressing with three wins and two seconds. He will settle in the first half of the field under Karis Teetan and is capable of getting into the finish.
1 CONVINCIBLE was in the market last time out but got burnt out wide up near a hot speed. He might face a wide run again from gate 10 with Sam Clipperton replacing Matthew Poon, but if he can get a position, he's a chance.
RACE 7 (1,800M)
2 DYNAMISM is becoming a tough horse to chase, having finished in the top four in eight of his last 10 starts. However, he is best suited over this course and distance and this race looks the easiest that he has tackled in some time. He does have to lug 130 pounds, but this might finally be his time to find the winner's circle.
12 MAGICAL BEAUTY only has to carry 113 pounds with Kei Chiong's 5-pound claim. He is an honest conveyance though and, if she can get him into a handy position from gate 3, he can hit the board.
1 PACKING DRAGON was this season's Happy Valley Million Challenge winner after recording two wins and two placings over this course and distance earlier in the season, as well as a 1,650m win in February. He was strong in a recent trial and might be capable of snaring one more.
3 WINNIE'S HONEY could not have been worse in his return from a four-month break last time out, tailing off late. He has trialled OK since and he is drawn to get a soft run, so he can improve.
RACE 8 (1,200M)
8 AMAZING has made up good ground in both starts. He might need further than the 1200m, but he has a far better gate here and, with Callan aboard, he can break his Hong Kong maiden.
7 HEALTHY LUCK led throughout to score a comfortable win last time out. He shapes to get a similar run this time, although rider Douglas Whyte could take a trail if he desires, and he should be around the mark.
9 ARM RUNDA proved that he has come on in leaps and bounds in recent starts with a third win from four runs last time out. This will be tougher from gate 12 as he now rises in weight, but a horse in the vein of form that he is in must be included.
11 HAPPY COOPERATION was good at his seasonal return three weeks ago, defying a 10-month break to finish fourth. He can only have taken improvement for that effort and he must rank as a chance.
COMMENTS BY ANDREW HAWKINS, COURTESY OF THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB