By News Team
18th May 2020
We’re all tied up in the jockeys’ title race in Hong Kong and it’s anyone’s guess who will emerge victorious.
A treble from Joao Moreira at Sha Tin on Sunday coupled with a winner for Zac Purton means both sit on 117 winners for the season and it’s all to play for ahead of Wednesday’s card at Happy Valley.
It’s an intriguing card too with nine competitive handicaps to enjoy including the feature, the Class 2 Ho Chung River Handicap. Here’s our look ahead to the best of the action.
Farm can take opener on Bumper Valley card
It’s never easy to unpick a Class 4 handicap at Happy Valley, but FARM BUMPER in the opening Shan Pui River Handicap (11:45am) sticks out like a sore thumb and will surely take plenty of beating if continuing his good run of recent form.
The four-year-old joined the Manfred Man stable in 2019 and didn’t show anything that year with his best finish being a five-length fifth in a Sha Tin handicap in September. However, since the turn of the year a move to running him over 5f at Happy Valley seems to have worked wonders with his recent form figures reading 1, 2, 2. He was a comfortable winner off a lowly mark of 34 in early March and he very nearly defied a subsequent rise in class as well as a six pound hike in the weights when just touched off by a head on his penultimate start.
The handicapper gave him another two pounds for that and again it didn’t stop him as he was only beaten by We The South by the same margin. Unsurprisingly, he’s up again in the weights and is now rated 46, but given the form he’s in it’s hard to suggest that rise will be beyond him. The form of his most recent run looks solid too with the winner a narrow third on Sunday at Sha Tin, while the third, Daily Delight, was victorious at last Wednesday’s meeting at Happy Valley.
The draw in seven is a slight concern, but all in all, Farm Bumper still looks well-handicapped and can gain a second win in Hong Kong.
Shining looks a Gem of a bet for Ho and Yiu
Given Vincent Ho’s form figures on This Is Class read 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, you’d think it would be a no brainer for the Hong Kong-born jockey to be reunited with Francis Lui’s representative in the Ho Chung River Handicap (3:50pm). The five-year-old is one of the most improved horses in training in Hong Kong shown by the fact he has risen an astonishing 41 pounds in less than 14 months. He’d done all his winning over 6f and many thought the drop back to five would prove problematic last time, but he showed his versatility to notch up yet another victory.
That was his biggest win to date and in all honesty, it’s hard to know how much improvement is left. If Lui can eek out more then he’ll be very hard to beat, but he’s coming out of stall 11 here and given the poor record that gate has over this course and distance, he looks worth taking on.
As mentioned, he’s done all of his winning under Ho and taking that into account, it’s perhaps telling that Ho is booked to ride SHINING GEM here. Ricky Yiu’s inmate won a Group 3 in Australia on his debut before moving to Hong Kong and took plenty of time to acclimatise to the different rigours of racing in the territory. He’s won three times this season, but it’s his most recent win, on his last start, that really caught the eye.
He looked to be in trouble turning into the home bend with little room to unleash his challenge, but when the gap opened he absolutely powered home in seriously impressive fashion. It was clearly a strong renewal with a number of horses running well subsequently, while the fourth, Victoriam, bolted up last week. Ho’s mount has been given a lovely draw in stall three and can overcome a seven pound rise to take this Class 2 contest.