Hong Kong Diary

Zac Purton and Joao Moreira will be hotfooting it from Meydan overnight to ride at Sha Tin this Sunday. The two biggest stars of the Hong Kong scene have some strong chances as usual but a much younger hopeful will also be in the spotlight on a ten-race card covered live on Sky Sports Racing.

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ALFRED READY TO SET SAIL WITH VALUABLE 10LB CLAIM

The HK system leans hard towards encouraging young local talent and that makes Alfred Chan’s first day in the saddle at Sha Tin this Sunday very interesting indeed.

Chan will appear on the racecard as a 10lb claimer but this is no rookie. Indeed, the former international sailing competitor rode 100 winners during his training period in Australia and New Zealand and will have his HK career guided by the relentlessly progressive Frankie Lor.

That 10lb allowance is a huge edge in HK’s tightly-knit handicaps. Matthew Poon and Victor Wong made full use of it when they returned from Down Under and, with six rides on his first day and Lor captaining the ship, it’s a fair bet that Chan will emulate them in the next few months.

The Lor-trained King Opie looks among the best of them in the featured Tolo Harbour Handicap at 9.15GMT.

Consistency has been this gelding’s hallmark this season. He’s closely matched with several rivals based on a good third behind Encouraging over course and distance two weeks ago but he has a hefty pull with the winner and Chan’s 10lb claim looks another plus point in what promises to be a truly-run race.

SIZE HOPING CHAMPION’S CAN SHOW THE WAY AGAIN

Hong Kong’s top three jockeys are the trio to focus on in what should prove a very informative Port Shelter Handicap at 8.10.

Karis Teetan takes over from Zac Purton aboard Happy Valley debut winner Fat Turtle. Purton will be on light rations in a bid to ride the progressive Solar Wai Wai at 8st 6lb. And Joao Moreira will be aiming to beat both as the fast-improving Champion’s Way bids to extend his unbeaten streak to four.

John Size’s gelding forged clear of Solar Wai Wai on his latest start and is drawn wide in 12 as he bids to defy a 10lb rise. “We have to deal with it every day, big weight, wide draw, but this is a good horse’s task and he’s a good horse,’ said Size.

Purton’s happy knack of knowing the right headgear for a horse could come into play in the Sha Tin Hoi Handicap at 4.40. Young Legend ran perfectly well when third over course and distance four weeks ago but didn’t help his cause by racing freely.

Purton suggested that fitting a hood might help the ex-Irish gelding to channel his energy more evenly and that advice could prove valuable in a typically trappy HK handicap.

HO-HO-HO AS VINCENT STEALS THE VALLEY SHOW

As mentioned before in HK Diary, there are certain riders who struggle to live up to market expectations and a couple who tend to exceed them.

Vincent Ho was flagged up as one of the latter group a few months ago and the former champion apprentice stole the show again at Happy Valley on Wednesday with three winners at 10-1, 11-1 and 9-1 to take his seasonal tally to 36.

Ho needs to average a winner a week for the rest of the season to reach a first half century and is already pushing firmly on the visa front to ensure that he makes the most of a second spell working under the watchful eye of Mark Johnston this summer.

LEGEND AND THINKER COULD PROVE PICK OF HK RAIDERS

Hong Kong has a solid record from a relatively small number of runners on Dubai World Cup night and this year’s four-strong raiding party spans the full distance spectrum.

It’s hard to think Fight Hero can make a major impact in the Golden Shaheen even after the withdrawal of favourite Roy H, while former Royal Ascot winner Gold Mount moves up to two miles in the Dubai Gold Cup after coming up short against HK’s best middle-distance horses.

Wishful Thinker and Southern Legend go in against two of the shortest priced favourites on the card when they take on Blue Point and Almond Eye in the Al Quoz Sprint and the Dubai Turf.

Ratings suggest they are up against it but Wishful Thinker has improved all season and has a strong finishing kick, while Southern Legend isn’t far behind the best HK has to offer and lines up with trainer Caspar Fownes seeming confident that he will be in the money.

Hong Kong Diary
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