There is an eight-race card at Happy Valley in Hong Kong on Wednesday and every run is a handicap. The richest contest is the last at 23.50 local time, which is for horses aged two and older. The horse with the second-highest Official Rating is Stronger, which could be just that. The shortest-priced favourite is Diamond Brilliant in the 22.15 race and the horse can justify that status. Favourite backers can get off to a good start because the market leader, Everyone’s Elite, has the form to win the opener.
Home of the esteemed Hock Kong Jockey Club, Happy Valley is situated in the middle of the city. The track is overlooked by an enormous seven-tier grandstand and the Wednesday night meetings are known to attract crowds of over 50,000. There is always decent prize money and the win purses for this meeting total over $800,000. The track is left-handed and rectangular on grass and fields are restricted to 14 runners. It’s a tight-turning circuit, which means horses drawn on the inside have an advantage – especially in sprint races over five and six furlongs. Race distances range from five furlongs to one mile and one furlong.
The leading jockeys during the current season are Zac Purton, CY Ho, Grant Van Niekerk, Joao Moreia and Karis Teetan. The top trainers by winners are KW Lui, C Fownes, FC Lor, Jimmy Ting and YS Tsui. Very Sweet Orange and Shouson are course specialists because both horses have won three races at Happy Valley this season. Course form is important at this unique location. Four of the five leading owners are syndicates, which shows how racing operates in Hong Kong. The betting is a pool operation which funds the generous prize money and outstanding facilities.
The Hing Man Handicap that closes Wednesday’s fixture carries a first prize of $168,717. Very few races in Europe bring together horses aged two and the older generation, but such events are common at Happy Valley. The youngest horse in this race is aged four, so there are no age allowances. The best horse in the race on ratings is Saul’s Special, but the weight looks excessive. This Is Class has won the last two starts at Happy Valley and Gentle Breeze has an excellent course record, but Purton can ride Stronger to a win at +225 with BetOnline.
Diamond Brilliant ticks all the right boxes in the fifth race over six furlongs for horses aged three and older. The Hong Tung Handicap has a first prize of $116,496, which makes it the joint-second richest race of the night. Four of the runners have won over the course and distance and another four have won races over six furlongs. Sunset Watch is the top weight and has the highest Official Rating, but the handicapper has caught up with the horse. Diamond Brilliant has finished second in his last two races but can get his head in front at the line and confirm his odds of +125 with BetOnline.
Everyone’s Elite can be another winner for favourite backers in the opening contest at 20.15. Horses aged three and older are eligible for this tricky handicap over one mile and one furlong worth $77,691 to the winner. The selection is not the best contender on official ratings because Part Together and Tangmere have run to higher marks. Play Wise has done well at a higher level and on ratings Flame Lily should not be dismissed. Even so, Everyone’s Elite looks progressive and after three second places can go one better and win this race at +137.5 with BetOnline.