Hong Kong Diary

It's all very well having a nickname like Magic Man but, with just four meetings to go and a one-day suspension looming, Joao Moreira needs to be more like Houdini to stop Zac Purton securing a fourth Hong Kong Jockeys' Championship, as the Trainers' Championship remains even closer.

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Moreira needs more Magic

Moreira outscored Purton by 2-1 again at Wednesday's Sha Tin meeting but he ended the day five adrift after missing out in two tight photos and he needs a huge day at Sha Tin on Sunday to have any chance of keeping the title race alive into the final week of the season. 

Meanwhile, Ricky Yiu and Francis Lui remain separated by just one winner at the top of the trainers' table. Rivalry will resume at Sha Tin on Sunday morning with Sky Sports racing covering all the action live on a marathon 11-race card.

Moreira looking to get Lucky in strong finale

The ability to gauge what will happen when horses who have crossed swords meet again is central to punting on Hong Kong racing and Sunday's featured Yan Chau Tong Handicap (10.45) is a case in point as the first four home from a recent similar event return to action.

Mr Croissant came out on top in a strongly-run race after a break that day but logic suggests that he's going to find life harder having been raised 6lb; All In Mind hardly wasted an inch in second from an inside gate and will plot a similar course from stall 3, while South African import Armando powered home from way back for fourth and looks a good prospect for seven furlongs and a mile.

Last but not least we have Lucky Express, who won two from three in Australia and caught the eye when heavily backed on his Hong Kong debut, missing the break and showing inexperience but keeping on for third under Moreira from a rating of 84.

History shows that winning first time from such a mark is tough but Lucky Express has trialled strongly since and looks bound to go close with that first local run behind him.

Conghua factor fuelling Yiu's title chase

Yiu has no doubt that his sustained fine form is due in no small part to being able to call on a second site team of up to ten horses at the HKJC's Conghua base.

Irish import Precise Express (a Fairyhouse and Leopardstown winner when known as Super Treat for Timothy Doyle last summer) travelled down from the Mainland China site to score on Wednesday and duly left his previous Hong Kong form way behind to score at 32-1.

His success, which followed hard on the heels of Alcari's 26-1 win last weekend, suggests that the market isn't always keeping track of the Conghua factor. All told, more than one in every six Hong Kong winners this season has been 'Made in Conghua' and that ratio looks set to increase next term when Lui joins Douglas Whyte, David Hayes and David Hall among the third phase of trainers to take second site stable space.

Badel joins Hong Kong's full-time foreign legion

One of Hong Kong's most popular winter visitors is to become a full timer with the news that French star Alexis Badel has signed up to become a Club rider for the entire 2020-21 season.

Badel ended his latest Hong Kong stint with a winner on March 1st and ended a four-month stay with 26 successes worth over £3.4m in prize money. His affable nature and ability to ride light (8st 1lb) has put him on the HKJC radar as a full-time target for some while and he is expected to return to Sha Tin on August 10th with a view to clearing quarantine a full two weeks before the new season begins.

Hong Kong Diary
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