Hong Kong Diary

Nine fixtures left in the Hong Kong season and title races dominate the headlines. Joao Moreira edged a 2-1 victory over Zac Purton at Happy Valley on Wednesday to cut the Aussie's lead in the jockeys' table to three. Ricky Yiu remains five ahead on the trainers' list after a 1-1 draw with Francis Lui. Caspar Fownes is now three ahead of Yiu as he bids to retain his 'King of the Valley' crown. The action switches to Sha Tin on Sunday and Moreira will be eager to exploit the fact that he has a full book of 11 rides while Purton has just six.

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REVITALISED JOAO RIGHT BACK IN THE HUNT

Three up with nine to play. It's a handy lead in golf but not so much in racing as Purton and Moreira continue their fight to see who will be crowned Hong Kong champ for a fourth time.

Purton forged five clear when Harrier Jet took off in the Valley opener on Wednesday night but Moreira roared back with a double aboard Sky Darci and Green Luck to end the night just three back (129-126) and Sunday offers a real chance for the Brazilian to reduce the deficit further.

MAGIC MAN LOOKING FOR THE GUN RUN

"It was a bit of a downside for me to not get a win in two of the last four meetings but it's good to spark things back up," said Moreira.

The Magic Man reunites with reliable All-Weather sprinter Gunnison in Sunday's featured Arculli Trophy at 9.05 and Champion Trainer John Size feels the £220,000 dash is "an ideal race" for the diminutive chestnut. "Big Time Baby beat him this season," he added.  "There's not a horse like that in this race, so I expect he'll fight out the finish once again."

CASPAR OUT TO RETAIN HIS VALLEY CROWN

No trainer embodies the spirit of Hong Kong's city track more than Caspar Fownes and the 'King of the Valley' is in no mood to relinquish his crown after supplying both of Moreira's Wednesday winners.

Caspar Fownes
Caspar Fownes bids to win another Trainers' Title.

The brace means Fownes leads Ricky Yiu 28-25 on the Valley's seasonal scoreboard and Sky Darci destined for greater heights after making up for a luckless run at Sha Tin with a commanding Renfrew Handicap success.

SKY'S THE LIMIT AS DARCI BOLTS UP

Moreira summed up Sky Darci's performance by saying "there's no doubt he's better than this class," while Fownes was more measured in saying "it didn't look a strong race on paper and hopefully now the handicapper doesn't destroy him."

Perhaps it wasn't a strong race, but the style of the success backed up both by the clock and the fact that the runner-up was a last-time-out winner who finished clear of the remainder. In short, Sky Darci looks one to follow despite a 9lb rise to a mark of 66.

TRACKS OPEN FOR BUSINESS FOR ASCOT PUNTERS

Hong Kong is gradually returning to normal as the coronavirus situation improves and relaxation measures are also being introduced to coincide with the start of Royal Ascot.

Extra races, earlier start times and a reduction in maximum fields suggest that the second year of the World Pool venture has the potential to generate well over £100m in turnover and Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses will both be open during the day from Monday to Friday as traditional betting shop punters start to emerge from lockdown.

Hong Kong Diary
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