Jim McGrath with three top tips for Happy Valley's Wednesday card
12.15 Happy Valley
2.15 Happy Valley
3.50 Happy Valley
This year’s Hong Kong Derby will live long in the memory, and not just because of Golden Sixty’s stunning performance to come from last to first in the final quarter mile. It is also likely to be a key reference point for form followers for the rest of the season.
While the focus was naturally on the impressive winner, there were several good performances among the also-rans, including three, who contest the the 1m1fCedar Handicap (3.50), the finale on a high-class card at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
The Frankie Lor-trained Reliable Teamdid best of the trio with a respectable fifth, four and a half lengths behind the winner, and Amazing Beats (eighth) ran a decent race without threatening, though Private Secretary (13th) failed to fulfil the promise of his first-up win onDecember 26 and was along the tailenders.
Reliable Team won four of his first six races and rapidly progressed to Class Two company, where he is more than comfortable, particularly against the type of opposition he faces this time. The distance, too, will suit this son of Reliable Man, whose climb through the ranks has not finished yet.
Having drawn near the inside in stall four, Vincent Ho is likely to have Reliable Team parked just in behind the leaders, on the fence, which will be handy enough should the speed slacken when they reach the first turn. Naturally, he would then be perfectly placed to deal with any subsequent increase in tempo.
Joao Moreira, never one to dither tactically, will probably be intent on getting over to the inside rail on Enrichment from his wide draw, so he too, should be nicely poised as they start their runs down the back straight.
Trainer Tony Cruz is banking on the theory Private Secretary will relish a return to Happy Valley, and having won Goodwood’s Cocked Hat Stakes earlier in his career, the costly import may well have a preference for sharp tracks.
Earlier on the card, Moreira will be aboard Californiadeepshotfor the first time on raceday in the division one of the Cypress Handicap6f sprint handicap (2.15), and he can help the horse regain the winning thread.
The Australian import won his first local outing in quite spectacular fashion, starting from a challenging wide draw and making all. He looked very smart but has been beaten in two subsequent starts. Nevertheless, he is still worth following.
Moreira was booked to partner the colt in a race at the Valley last month but Californiadeepshot was withdrawn on veterinary grounds. He subsequently trialled well on the Sha Tin all-weather track two weeks ago and is ready for this.
The booking of Zac Purton for Compassion Spiritin theLarch Handicap 6f sprint (12.15) is very significant. Considering his intense battle with Moreira for title honours, every mount counts, and the Australian is noted for his analysis of all races and his careful selection of possible winners.
Compassion Spirit is a maiden after three starts– all at Sha Tin– but he was in the frame in two of them and his last start third in a 6f sprint was solid. He is well up to landing this and giving Purton a valuable winner in his on-going quest to hold on to his crown.
Bets can be placed into HK pools with Ladbrokes, Coral and the Tote
Race 4 (1st leg): 1, 2
Race 5 (2nd leg): 11, 12
Race 6 (3rd leg): 2, 3
Race 7 (4th leg): 7, 9
Race 8 (5th leg): 2, 8
Race 9 (6th leg): 5, 9
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