Hong Kong Diary

The most turbulent season in HK history concludes at Happy Valley on Wednesday with coronavirus measures firmly back in place and Sky Sports Racing will cover all the action from 11.45 on a nine-race card with over £1.2m in prize money on offer.

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Yiu almost home in race for first trainers' title

Ricky Yiu has one hand on his first HK trainers' title after a treble at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The veteran homegrown handler has never finished higher than third in a 25-year career but has occupied the top spot for most of this season and looks long odds on to prevail after Good Luck Friend followed Natural Storm and Super Oasis into the winner's enclosure.

"It's a big relief, we are holding the cup on one side," said Yiu, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday. Final confirmation will surely follow at the Valley on Wednesday as Yiu is now four clear of Tony Cruz and Francis Lui, who only have four and six runners respectively.

Moore prepares for final curtain

John Moore's final night as a HK handler could prove a low-key affair, with a planned presentation to mark his stellar training career cancelled because of renewed coronavirus measures and few standout contenders among his five-strong team.

Stall 11 makes life tough for his final runners - Helena Baby and Sunny Boy in the 3.15 and 3.50 - but Moore has nothing left to prove after a 35-year stint which has yielded more winners ( 1735), more prize money (over £200m) and more G1 winners (36) than anyone in HK history.

A new chapter training in partnership with brother Gary at Rosehill in Sydney awaits but Moore has no doubt what he would like to be remembered for: "Just the standard we created over the years," he said. "I'll miss everything about Hong Kong racing."

So aiming to be the Encore Boy in fiery finale

Homegrown jockey Ben So is also preparing for a Valley swansong on Wednesday and is hoping the final night of a riding career that has produced over 150 winners ends in similar style to the last time the city track staged a closing meeting in 2013.

So drove heavily-backed Flying Elite home to clinch the trainers' title for Dennis Yip in a dramatic last race of the season that night and links up with champion elect Yiu as Encore Boy bids to send him into his new role as work rider for Aussie handler David Hayes on a winner in the Cheong Ming Handicap (3.50) .

Encore Boy seldom runs a bad race and lines up fresh from a solid fourth behind Victoriam and Winning Method over course and distance three weeks ago. Victoriam looks bound to be popular with Purton aboard again but the consistent Shining Ace and the progressive Highland Fortuneare bang in form and also have plenty to recommend them in what has all the makings of a fiery finale.

Clock says impressive Field can bloom again

Sunday's card featured a winner for Moore on his final Sha Tin card, a treble for Joao Moreira on his final HK appearance of the season, confirmation that Purton is HK's champion jockey for a fourth time and several horses who should pay to follow next season.

Chief among them was the fast-improving Sky Field, who was backed as if defeat was out of the question and waved cheerio to Class 4 by powering clear under Moreira. Not for the first time, the clock told a striking tale. Sky Field's final time was a length faster than Good Luck Friend recorded in winning a hot Class 2 over the same distance later on. More importantly, he followed a strong 22.39s middle split with a rapid 22.03 closer while giving the impression he could have gone even faster if required.

"It's been a while since I've ridden a nice young talent like him," said the Magic Man. The HK handicappers were equally impressed, raising Caspar Fownes's chestnut by 14lb to a mark of 71, but that's most unlikely to halt his progress once the new season starts in September.

Hong Kong Diary
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