RACING ROLLS ON WITH EXTRA MEASURES IN FORCE
China sneezes and the whole world catches a cold. An old saying from the world of economics has taken on an altogether more serious meaning with the spread of coronavirus and Hong Kong racing continues to take evasive action as the outbreak reaches a critical stage.
Last month's decision to restrict racecourse attendances severely has been followed this week by the closure of all Hong Kong's 101 betting offices until further notice and extra measures come into force for this Saturday's Sha Tin card and beyond to limit raceday attendance to around 1,200 people.
Betting turnover has inevitably suffered and Wednesday's turnover, dominated by online activity, came in at a little over £100m. That represents a notable dip compared to the norm. But, to provide context, it still equates to the total amount wagered on a normal day at the Cheltenham Festival. And that from a city with a population almost ten times smaller than the UK.
VINCENT HITS 300 WITH VALLEY TREBLE
Vincent Ho would never say as much himself but others were happy to say it for him after the leading homegrown rider notched the 300th Hong Kong winner of his career at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Ho reached his latest milestone with a daring inside swoop aboard Massive Pocket in the Sports Road Handicap and promptly rattled off the next two winners on Naboo Star and the impressive This Is Class to leave former boss Caspar Fownes in no doubt as to his prowess.
"Vincent has worked to hone his skills and now he's the real deal," he said. "You could take him anywhere in the world, put him on any horse and he's going to get the job done."
A frequent flyer who has already visited California and Switzerland during brief suspensions this season, Ho has ridden seven winners from 27 rides in two short UK stints and is already booked for another summer based with Mark Johnston this year.
FARHH COULD BE A CUT ABOVE DESPITE 8LB HIKE
Ho has also surfaced on Twitter this week (@vincenthocy) and it would come as no surprise to see him in the news again thanks to several strong chances on Saturday's card.
Preciousship is in the form of his life after an impressive course and distance success and looks a worthy favourite for the 7.20, while Star Of Yuen Long endured a tough trip on his latest start but comes firmly into the argument for the 7.50 judged on the way he won a strongly-run race with authority here in December.
Last but not least, Ho climbs back aboard Farhh Above for the finale at 9.00. Douglas Whyte's gelding was sold for 155,000gns at the Newmarket Breeze-Up Sale in 2018 and has already paid the vast majority back with two Sha Tin wins.
The latter success was hallmarked by a telling turn of foot - with a quickfire 21.62s final 2 furlong split - and the step up from 6f to 7f looks very much in Farhh Above's favour as he bids to shrug off an 8lb hike.
MOORE SEEKING TO BECOME FIRST MEMBER OF 1700 CLUB
With Ho's latest milestone achieved the statistical baton now passes to John Moore, who has eight Saturday runners as he seeks the one victory needed to reach 1700 winners in a career that has been long and remarkably lucrative.
Moore's 1699 winners under Hong Kong rules (along with more than 3,000 placed horses) have collected an eye-watering £200m in prize money and the veteran Aussie has eight Saturday chances including Computer Patch in the Choi Hung Handicap over 6f at 8.25.
Impressive recent 5f winner Voyage Warrior heads the weights for this hot sprint and needs to relax better than on his sole previous effort round the Sha Tin bend to fulfil his potential.
Computer Patch should get a smooth run from stall five under Alexis Badel and is probably ahead of the handicapper from a mark of 84. However, the latter comment is also applicable to Beauty Applause, who has had two close battles with Computer Patch of late and looks all set to play a major role again with Joao Moreira aboard.