By News Team
5th May 2020
It is very much cat and mouse in Hong Kong at the moment.
Just as Joao Moreira scuttles three or four clear in the Jockeys’ Championship, Zac Purton pounces on a few winners of his own and the gap narrows.
Purton pulled off a brilliant hat-trick at Sha Tin on Sunday and that’s rebalanced the scales with Moreira, 4/7 to be crowned champion in July, just one win ahead.
Both jockeys have managed to secure a spot in the saddle in each of the nine races at Happy Valley on Wednesday and they’ll be going hammer and tongs from the off.
Jewellery’s time to shine
With 41% of winners over the last three seasons jumping from one of the inside three stalls, attention is immediately drawn to Goko, Shanghai Lad and Multimax in the opener (Race 1, 11:45am).
Apprentices Ben So (Goko) and Dylan Mo (Multimax) both take a few pounds out of the saddle and it would be no surprise to see either jockey boot their mount out in front to grab the rail. Given his falling handicap mark and promising reappearance at the Valley last time out, Goko would be the pick of the two and he should be a playable each-way price.
For win purposes, Moreira could land the first blow in the jockeys’ title race with MONKEY JEWELLERY. Stall six shouldn’t be too much of an issue, particularly with one of the world’s top pilots aboard, and he looks set to build on his third over course and distance last month.
As a John Size inmate being campaigned for only his second season in Hong Kong, there’s a suspicion that he could begin to prove better than his current mark of 60.
Granted you’ve got to go back 11 starts to September since he last got his head in front, but he’s run some solid races in hotter company than this since, including over course and distance last time, and this looks a nice opportunity.
Destine for back to back wins
Over the same track and trip as the opener, the result of the Gladiolus Handicap (Race 5, 1:45pm) also looks like being heavily influenced by the draw, which is great news for Moreira.
Birthed in stall one with Harmony N Home, the Brazilian will be hoping to settle for a nice early spot on the rail before getting his head out and kicking on in the home straight.
Backing this horse requires a bit of a leap of faith when you take into account all of his four career starts, though, and others are preferred.
Last start winner DESTINE JEWELLERY, who has the in-form Chad Schofield doing the steering, has been handed stall three and looks set for another big run. He started sharply from stall five to grab a good early spot over course and distance last time, but what was most impressive was his work in the finish.
Bustled up on the inside by Schofield, he only needed one flick of the whip to motor into top gear and he looked to be saving a bit up his sleeve when over a length clear at the line.
As such, an eight-pound rise might not be enough to stop him going back-to-back.
Backing Solar to eclipse rivals
The closing Class 2 Camellia Handicap (Race 9, 3:50pm), worth £200,000, is the big prize of the night and if Purton is behind at this point then he’ll fancy his chances of pegging one back with Dances With Dragon.
He and Moreira, who climbs aboard Enrichment again, had a ding-dong battle on these two mounts last time out, with Purton just coming out on top by a head. Given Enrichment and Moreira were hard at work a long way from home, not to mention the uncomfortable three-wide trip throughout, they should be able to turn the tables.
However, he’s been lumped with stall 12, which has housed just 5% of winners over the last three seasons, and he’ll likely have to overcome a fair few traffic problems to win from there.
SOLAR WAI WAI is the one worth taking a chance on. He’s been off the track for two months, last seen winning in Class 3 company over course and distance, and has been working well since.
A stay up in the training grounds at Conghua followed by an impressive trial will have put him spot on for this and he should be a fair each-way price.