Ho can make amends with Fownes's Naboo Star
1.15 Happy Valley
2.15 Happy Valley
2.50 Happy Valley
Vincent Ho has rightly been basking in the glory of his masterly Hong Kong Derby triumph on Golden Sixty at the weekend, but when he is legged aboardNaboo Star In the Class3 handicap (2.15) at Happy Valley, he knows he has a score to settle.
While the brilliant Golden Sixty came from last with a trouble-free run on the outside, Naboo Star’s passage at his last start was completely the opposite. Coming to the home bend on the tight city track, Ho decided to stick to the inside on the five-year-old, with disastrous results.
The episode became the ultimate jockey’s nightmare as he found himself on the inside rail, running out of room, and was forced to ease his mount well before the line. That he took fifth, beaten only a length and a quarter in a blanket finish, was eyecatching in itself.
Ho will be anxious to put things right with his old boss Caspar Fownes, who has been a staunch supporter for many years. Naboo Star, for his part, is well up to winning again over the Valley’s extended mile– his two wins have come over course and distance– and is comfortable in this grade.
The Benno Yung-trained Cinquante Cinq is the key danger to Naboo Star. The gelding is twice a course-and-distance winner and, significantly, Joao Moreira has regained the ride. Both horses start from wide gates, which will make for interesting tactics, with such a short run to the first turn.
Fownes is widely known as the ‘King Of The Valley’ and with good reason. He has saddled more than 450 winners there, a total only surpassed by long-serving veteran John Moore, and with six well-fancied runners, there is serious belief, he can bag a couple more on Wednesday.
Green Reignlooks to be another of his winners, in the Class3 6f sprint handicap (2.50), despite the gelding still being a maiden in Hong Kong after five starts, which considering time for acclimatisation and settling into a new routine, is not unusual.
Green Reign showed plenty of potential in Australia, winning twice over 6f on decent tracks but at a lower handicap level. Slotting into the Hong Kong system at Class 3, he is now set to open his account and can build on that before the end of the season.
His last run was exceptionally good, when from a wide draw, he finished powerfully from the rear to be beaten only three-quarters of a length. Moreira, who was riding him for the first time, was obviously impressed as he is on board again.
One of the Fownes hot pots on the card is Dancing Fighter in the Class3 sprint (1.45) but as promising as this fellow is, he is saddled with top weight, drawn wide and has not run since December, and the trainer publicly stated he will be happy to see him finishing off the race strongly.
The other bet worth pursuing isMehboob in the Class4 6f handicap sprint (1.15), in which he can take full advantage of his inside draw for Zac Purton.
Trainer Paul O’Sullivan has a canny knack with sprinters and Mehboob, already a course and distance winner, is in top form asshown by his last start when a close third in a similar race at the Valley. This is another fine opportunity for him.
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