Hong Kong Diary

Everything builds to FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin this Sunday but Happy Valley takes centre stage on Wednesday on a nine-race card on Sky Sports Racing with one star absent and several others on a mission.

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Purton out to pounce with Moreira suspended

Joao Moreira enjoyed a profitable Sunday, riding a treble (and five places) to move three ahead of Zac Purton in the race for the jockeys' title, but the Brazilian sits Wednesday out due to a careless riding ban.

Purton had to settle for a Sunday single aboard the ever-improving Mighty Giant but had an eventful day otherwise which also involved a complaint against the starter after finishing third aboard Jade Fortune.

Zac Purton
Zac Purton will be looking to capitalise on title rival Joao Moreira's absence on Wednesday

Manfred Man's gelding looked unlucky, coming home strongly after blowing the start as Purton struggled to re-position a wayward weight cloth, and the stewards duly advised starter Tony Speechley "to ensure there is clear communication with his assistant starters behind the barriers so that he is fully aware of any horses or riders experiencing difficulties."

 

In-form Schofield hoping Above can go beyond again

Keeping pace with Purton and Moreira is a tall order for any HK rider but Chad Schofield has been making a good fist of it and notched his twelfth winner in the last ten meetings when completing a treble aboard the progressive Team Power.

Still only 26, Schofield is now just four short of his previous seasonal best of 38 winners in a HK season and lies fifth on the jockeys' ladder table despite having had fewer rides than eight of the top ten.

"I've been getting better rides and from that comes winners and from winners comes confidence," said the keen LFC fan, whose full book of nine at the Valley includes last month's runaway Sha Tin Class 4 scorer Above in the Heather Handicap at 12.45.

Trainer John Moore feels Above is "doing everything right" ahead of his Class 3 bow, while Schofield adds that the progressive four-year-old "has a nice galloping weight and you'd think he'd be hard to beat again."


Millard hoping for a sequel to 'How To Train Your Dragon' in QEII

Schofield will also be aboard a familiar British face when Glorious Dragon takes a third crack at HK's champion middle distance stayer in Sunday's QEII Cup.

The grey showed useful form when known as Stephensons Rocket for Ed Walker in 2018 and moves up to Group 1 level after a very unlucky third under Ryan Moore in Class 2 company on his latest start (see video replay below)

Ever the realist, Millard concedes that "it looks like we're running for place money" but is happy to let Glorious Dragon take his chance along with stablemate , who moves up in distance after an abortive trip to Dubai for the Godolphin Mile.

Millard, who enjoyed one of the greatest days of his career when the exceptional Ambitious Dragon won the QEII in 2011, said: "One of the reasons we are going for this is because it's a small field and there are no overseas horses. Exultant looks outstanding but both my horses will be in there doing their best."

 

Galaxy set to take the high road

The advantage of a low draw in Happy Valley sprints is hardly a secret but post position can be even more important than usual when the rail is wide in the C+3 position.

Such is the case at the city track this Wednesday and, as the accompanying graphic shows, stalls 1 and 2 have an exceptional record in 1200m contests when the rail is out.

That will come as good news for Purton, who partners the useful Dancing Fighter from stall 2, while Amazing Kiwi has drawn 1 and comes firmly into this at his best.

Schofield has work to do on Ping Hai Galaxy from stall 9 but John Size's grey has two solid pieces of Valley form to his credit - including a 159-1 boilover in February - and the wide barrier shouldn't stop him going close in a race where half the field are very hard to fancy.

Hong Kong Diary
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