Hong Kong Diary

We look forward to the Richard Gibson-trained Wishful Thinker’s Happy Valley Trophy tilt, have news on why Silvestre de Sousa won't be riding leading Derby hope Dark Dream in Sunday's Classic Cup and provide an update on Martin Harley’s first rides at Happy Valley.

  • Wednesday 13 February
  • Blog
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Dubai dream could be more than Wishful thinking

Hong Kong's sole English trainer Richard Gibson could be eyeing flight schedules for Dubai if his exciting sprinter Wishful Thinker can maintain his unbeaten course record in the Happy Valley Trophy at 1.15.

The five-year-old stormed from last to first under Alexis Badel on his sole previous visit to the city track in November and has continued to thrive since in two runs at Sha Tin.

Gibson acknowledges that Wishful Thinker needs to progress again to earn a place in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on March 30th, while Badel is anxious to secure a smooth run in what promises to be a fast-run race.

"Wishful Thinker's running style makes him an exciting horse to watch and also a very exciting horse to ride," said the Frenchman ahead of the final Valley night of his latest winter spell in Hong Kong.

"A fast pace would be a good sign for me. Hopefully I can get lucky and have no traffic jams, but I know I am riding a very talented horse who has the capacity to run very well."

Derby Dream turns dark for de Sousa

Silvestre de Sousa doesn't beat about the bush when asked about why he won't be riding leading Hong Kong Derby hope Dark Dream in Sunday's Classic Cup at Sha Tin.

"I think I got sacked," says the Brazilian while reflecting on Dark Dream's defeat behind the impressive Furore in the Classic Mile three weeks ago.

"I was very disappointed," he adds. "Things went against the horse and I looked after him for the next race. But that's the way it goes here. It's tough but you get on with it."

De Sousa, who now looks set to extend his Hong Kong stay until late March, will now ride Ho Ho Khan against Dark Dream in the Classic Cup but has no doubt that his former partner is the one to beat and says: "I think Dark Dream will be the winner."

Harley needs a little magic to score on Valley debut

The good news for Martin Harley is that he has three rides on today's Valley card. But the bad news is that he will have to conjure up something special to ride his first winner in Hong Kong.

Jockeys aren't allowed agents in Hong Kong and the 'kill and catch your own' approach to securing good rides makes networking an essential part of the job.

Harley had just one ride on his first two meetings at Sha Tin and his three rides on his first night at the Valley - namely My Dear, Lucky Coin and Imperial Gallantry - look set to go off at very long odds.

Douglas Whyte's retirement will create some openings, as will the departure of Alexis Badel this weekend, but an early winner is precious for any new rider and the arrival of Aussie youngster Regan Bayliss next week will increase competition further.

Hong Kong Diary
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