HONG KONG STARS BACK IN THE SADDLE
A turbulent week for Hong Kong racing ends with a Sha Tin Saturday card and a determination to get the show back on the road.
Cancelled fixtures at Sha Tin or Happy Valley tend to be caused by typhoon threats but a different storm has hit the city of late and Wednesday night’s Valley card was abandoned at lunchtime due to fears that ongoing anti-government protests could compromise the safety of customers, staff and horses at the city centre racecourse.
The late cancellation of a meeting which would have generated over £100m in betting turnover - of which well over £10m would have gone to the government in betting duty – suggests that the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s security team felt the risk of violence was real and appreciably worse than first thought.
That risk was heightened by the intended presence of a horse owned by pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho, who has reacted to Wednesday’s events by agreeing not run the horse in question (Hong Kong Bet) for the time being.
Normal service is expected to be resumed on Saturday for a ten-race card headed by the Pok Oi Centenary Cup at 9.05am.
YEUNG ON THE THRESHOLD AS 250 LOOMS
Promoting homegrown riders is one of the cornerstones of Hong Kong racing, hence the fact that jockeys who come up through the HKJC Apprentice School receive a generous 10lb allowance in their early days and retain a 2lb claim right through until they reach the 250 mark.
Derek Leung and Vincent Ho have both passed the 250 milestone in recent times and fellow homegrown rider Keith Yeung needs just one more winner to emulate them this Saturday.
A former champion apprentice, Yeung is a popular and highly capable lightweight who has every right to feel he goes into Saturday’s fixture with at least a couple of solid chances.
Ka Ying Master wears down the favourite to remain unbeaten for Keith Yeung and Benno Yung. #HKracing #SeasonOpener pic.twitter.com/yCCmuzd5qd
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 1, 2019
Ka Ying Master isn’t ideally drawn in stall 1 but is clearly of interest for the Nam Sing Wai Handicap at 8.35 after showing a willing attitude to win both his starts thus far, while Noble Steed looked highly progressive for most of last season and can be expected to go very well at a fair price in the featured Pok Oi Centenary Cup at 9.05.
BRITISH IMPORTS OUT IN FORCE IN WIDE OPEN CONTEST
British imports are very well represented in Saturday's Ta Tong Handicap at 9.35 but whether that numerical strength results in a win remains to be seem.
More Than This won three from three for Richard Fahey but enjoyed a 10lb claim and the sweetest of runs when opening his Hong Kong account in July and this looks a much tougher test.
World Famous won two from four when known as Master Brewer for Michael Bell and looked to be coming to hand with a good second here recently, while former Britannia third Magnificent has been hit and miss here but can go well from the front if in the mood.
In short, this looks wide open, but Vincy and Unicron Jewellery both warrant a second look at fair odds. Vincy is taking longer to open his account than expected but signed off last season with a strong-finishing second here.
A strong pace would play to his strength as it would for Unicron Jewellery, who is well drawn in stall 2 and likely to be much sharper after a fair reappearance run.