Hong Kong racing: Jim McGrath with three tips on Wednesday's Happy Valley card
1.45 Happy Valley
2.45 Happy Valley
3.50 Happy Valley
Zac Purton plays to his strengths around the tight Happy Valley track and ample proof is likely to be supplied when he partners prolific Amazing Star in today's finale, the Class 26f sprint handicap (3.50).
Purton is a master at positioning his mounts. He spends hours studying the predicted pattern of races, and he always has a strategy or two in mind, whether it be the highest or lowest level of competition. He is also a good judge of pace.
Amazing Star is aptly named because it is rare to see any horse attempting a fifth win at Hong Kong's city track in the same season. It is also quite amazing for one in his third season to be considered competitive off a handicap mark 42lb higher than when he started the term.
On paper, there is an abundance of speed in this cracking contest and from gate six Purton is tipped to take a sit behind the pace, especially as the very quick This Is Class will want to cross over from his wide draw in 11.
If Amazing Star gets the breaks of the race in behind he can notch a noteworthy success, with Larson, who takes a step up in distance from 5f, the main danger in unquestionably the best race on the programme.
Purton and arch rival Joao Moreira are already scrapping it out, blow for blow, in their title battle, although there are still 15 meetings remaining before the end of the season.
The pair are dead level– 117 apiece– and each has a full card of nine rides. In my book, Purton has a better selection of mounts, for apart from Amazing Star, he also partners Ares, a strong winning chance in the Class4 6f sprint handicap (1.45).
Ares is a progressive New Zealand-bred three-year-old, who is already a course-and-distance winner and comes to this off the back of a solid second in similar company. He is going the right way for trainer Frankie F C Lor, and Purton has been aboard in all his three starts to date. Lucky Quality is the danger.
Douglas Whyte has his team firing again, and Brave King, an Irish import who won at Dundalk and Killarney for Gordon Elliott, can break his duck in Hong Kong in the Class3 handicap over an extended 1m (2.45).
Brave King ran on from a long way back for an eyecatching fourth for Chad Schofield in a similar race on his last start and would only have to repeat that performance to go very close this time.
Nordic Warrior, whose claim to fame is winning the first race run at Conghua, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's track in China, has run two cracking races recently. With his light weight, he could be menacing in an interesting contest.
Race 4 (leg 1): 1, 9
Race 5 (leg 2): 1, 8
Race 6 (leg 3): 2, 4
Race 7 (leg 4): 7, 12
Race 8 (leg 5): 2, 4
Race 9 (leg 6): 4, 8
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