Happy days can continue for Purton with excellent book of rides
2.50 Happy Valley
3.20 Happy Valley
3.55 Happy Valley
Start as you mean to carry on might well be the motto adopted by champion Zac Purton, who chalked up a sparkling double on the opening day of the season at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Today, the Hong Kong action switches to Happy Valley, surrounded by skyscrapers and measuring just short of a mile in circumference.
The attendance will be well short of Sunday’s 74,000 (second highest since 1996) but, just the same, a near sell-out is expected at the tight city course, which flashes a neon ‘House Full’ sign when crowd capacity is reached.
Purton again has an intriguing book of rides and could end with a hat-trick on the eight-race card.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Jumbo Happiness (2.50), a course and distance winner, doesn’t take much to come to hand and will be suited by a good draw in a typically competitive race.
Phantom Falcon, with the excellent Karis Teetan aboard, and My Ally, the Richard Gibson-trained Hong Kong maiden, should be included in multiples.
Purton combines again with Fownes on Sky Melody (3.20), a High Chaparral gelding who showed a glimpse of his potential two starts back when flying home from last to snatch an eye-catching second. The Valley mile will suit perfectly.
Although he has yet to win in eight Hong Kong starts, he is just the type to make an impression in this class in the first half of the season.
Australian trainer Michael Freedman is set for a good season, and Fortune Booth (3.55), another attractive ride for Purton, only has to reproduce the consistency he displayed last season to rack up another couple of wins.
The son of More Than Ready is selected ahead of Bold Stitch and Magic Legend, who are both worthy of inclusion in multiples.
What I learned in the last week . . .
First impressions are everything in Hong Kong racing, and 27-year-old Grant Van Niekerk certainly made local punters take notice when he fired in a first and last race double on his Sha Tin debut at the weekend. He looks yet another South African jockey to follow.
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