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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Outlawed and Storm can keep the Poon train rolling

Happy Valley: Wednesday could be a happy day for Matthew Poon
1 of 1

Gobi Storm
1.45 Happy Valley
1pt win

Outlawed
3.15 Happy Valley
1pt each-way

The publicity blurb reads ‘Happy Wednesday’ but a neat subheading for current midweek action at Happy Valley would be ‘The Sorcerer and the Apprentice’.

Joao Moreira has long held the sorcerer role in Hong Kong and the fact that the Magic Man has drawn a blank on the last two Valley cards certainly won’t deter his legions.

But leading apprentice Matthew Poon rattled off a four-timer on his last visit to the city venue and the youngster’s invaluable 7lb claim could prove the key to help unlock several tricky contests, including the Verbena Handicap at 3.15.

Thunder Stomp provided a classic example of what having Moreira aboard for the first time can do when powering clear over course and distance three weeks ago, but he’s 8lb higher with a draw (stall 11) that poses the brilliant Brazilian a ticklish early question.

By contrast, Outlawed has drawn well in stall five. He beat Thunder Stomp fair and square when the pair met here in June and the dash he showed to lead for a long way in a strongly run race on his reappearance suggests that all is in place for him to return to peak form.

Poon faces the challenge of trying to coax improvement from a hitherto frustrating partner when he rides Gobi Storm for local legend Tony Cruz in the Magnolia Handicap at 1.45.

This gelding has a chequered profile thus far – and finished behind three of this field here three weeks ago – but he travelled strongly in front until the effects of cutting out three consecutive demanding 400m splits took a toll.

Time will tell if Gobi Storm can build on that, but the Poon claim will help and the prospect of a soft lead is real against a field made up largely of hold-up horses.

Finally, expect to see a bemused but beaming Brit surrounded by a crowd of elated Hong Kongers if the feisty Young Empire notches his fourth Valley success of the year in the Citi Sprint Challenge Cup at 2.45.

The head says a 5lb rise for a 57-1 success two weeks ago will make life tough for the Racing Club’s pocket rocket but he’s defied stall nine twice already and might just be underestimated by the market –and this scribbler – yet again.

Poon faces the challenge of trying to coax improvement from a hitherto frustrating partner when he climbs aboard Gobi Storm
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