Grant aiming for a Jolly night out at the Valley
Grant Van Niekerk is one of the coming forces in the HK weighing room and, despite regular visits to what he calls "the boardroom," the South African rider lies on the verge of a personal best with almost half of the season left.
The 28-year-old has missed ten meetings through five bans since September - forking out £20,000 in fines as a result - but one more winner will take him past last season's total of 31 and Jolly Honour looks one of his strongest chances in the second division of theSan Po Kong Handicap (1.45) at Happy Valley this Wednesday.
The chestnut showed spirit to win over course and distance in October and showed that he's still fairly treated on his latest start when third after making a big move off the final bend. "He's a bit of a cheeky horse and last time I think I went a touch too soon," said Van Niekerk.
"Racing here is quick - you're always trying to find the best position so occasionally you are going to find a bit of trouble. I just have to make sure it doesn't happen as often and, going forward, I'm ensuring I do my best to stay out of the boardroom."
Purton continues title push on Posh
Zac Purton keeps chipping away at Joao Moreira's lead at the top of the jockeys' table and now lies just seven behind his old rival after recording a treble and a double while the Brazilian was suspended last week.
David Hall's gelding has Purton for the first time, blinkers for the first time and Class 4 for the first time in what looks a very winnable 1200m contest. Add in the fact that he's well drawn in stall 4 after catching the eye running well for a long way in a much better race over 1400m at Sha Tin on his latest start and it's reasonable to expect him to go close.
Pace the key as Galaxy bids to star again
There will be no triple-figure prices around this time but Ping Hai Galaxy still looks one of the more interesting horses in action this Wednesday.
The lightly-raced grey was completely ignored in the market for his Valley debut last month but gave champion trainer John Size the longest-priced winner of his HK career when popping up at 159-1.
It's an upset in the Valley nightcap as Ping Hai Galaxy bursts clear at 159/1 for Matthew Poon & John Size! #HKracing pic.twitter.com/WyLYjOMJtZ
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 12, 2020
Revisit the video and you will see there was no fluke about that shock success. On the contrary, Ping Hai Galaxy travelled like a well-handicapped sprinter from the off, relishing a strong gallop and sealing the deal decisively under Matthew Poon.
Size sticks with Poon for a return to the Valley. A 6lb rise was only to be expected, but Ping Hai Galaxy is open to more improvement and the presence of fast horses like This Is Class, Super Wise and Takingufurther should ensure the searching pace that clearly suits him well.
Badel bows out as Douglas looks ahead
Alexis Badel ended a highly successful HK stint with a winner when the progressive Super Wealthy landed the Sha Tin finale on Sunday but his departure leaves Douglas Whyte needing a new go-to rider.
Whyte is particular about who rides his horses - as befits a man who won 13 jockeys' championships - but a link with Alberto Sanna was cut short when the Italian left town and Badel's return to France leaves an intriguing vacancy.
Unlike most of his training colleagues, Whyte seems in no rush to book former nemesis Zac Purton. Moreira should come into sharper focus on the Whyte radar soon, while it will be interesting to see if the Durban Demon supports fellow South African Aldo Domeyer on his return to HK later this month.