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By Darren Winningham | Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The Happy Valley Racecourse is a tourist attraction in Hong Kong. It is in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island, surrounded by Wong Nai Chung Road and Morrison Hill Road. The Happy Valley track features seven-storey stands that can accommodate approximately 55,000 spectators. A network of lifts and walkways join the stands and make for easy transition and movement around the course.

However, there are two features of this course that stand out for me – the tall skyscraper buildings that surround the course where people reside. The second is the inner field of the course which contains sports and leisure facilities such as football, hockey and rugby fields and horse parade rings. It is an amazing multipurpose facility in the middle of a city!

We kick off Day 1 of the LONGINES International Races here with the traditional LONGINES International Jockeys Challenge.

A star-studded field of international jockeys have been assembled to contest this event in 2019 I am looking forward to some fierce racing with winning jockey taking home HK$500,000.

The weather is forecast to be fine – the track GOOD.

The stage is set – normally horses drawn handy to the rail and who can lead win at this course but in recent meetings horses have been able to get onto the back of the leaders and sling shot wide on the track and run them down. With that in mind I have had to rethink some of my selections.


Race 1

This is a tough race to start the night.

Great Son (4) has been racing well and is likely to jump and lead here. He has the services of Silvestre De Sousa and is the reigning 2018 Champion of the LONGINES International Jockeys Championship. I think he should go well here.

Joao Moreira rides the Frankie Lor trained Blooming Spirit (1) who comes off a solid trial win. This runner has drawn a little wide, however, the trial suggests that he will run well here.

Another runner with a recent barrier trial is Farm Bumper (2) to be ridden by Derek Leung. This trial was a very solid hit out and, drawn ideally in barrier 3, he could be one at odds to cause an upset here in the first race.

4 – Great Son
1 – Blooming Spirit
2 – Farm Bumper
3 – Kwai Chung Elite
Rough chance 6

Race 2

Wonderful Tiger (9) has won his past two starts here over the same distance. He needs a very strong pace in front so he can finish off strongly – so if they go fast here he is the one to jump on.

Liverbird Star (8) is dropping back from 1800 metres to 1650 metres. Maybe this will see him finish off a strong race – he seemed to wilt last start in the last 200 metres.
Calling The Shots (1) will race handy but has drawn wide here tonight.

If there is a slow tempo he is the one to back in this field as last start he was the victim of the fast pace in the race and he succumbed over the final stages.

9 – Wonderful Tiger
8 – Liverbird Star
1 – Calling The Shots
7 – Doctors Delight
Rough chance 4

Race 3

I like the John Moore trained Shouson (4) here to get the chocolates. James McDonald has been booked for the ride. He has drawn nicely in barrier 7 and will probably race three pairs back and hopefully will let down well in the straight and be first past the post.

Viva Council (5) trained by Peter Ho looks the likely leader and has drawn perfectly in barrier 1. He will be hard to run down with apprentice Dylan Mo to ride – his 3 pound claim will be a of importance.

El Jefe (7) is an interesting runner here resuming after a spell. He has had the benefit of two very solid barrier trials. The last trial he won impressively, and he gave the me the opinion that he will handle this track easily. Grant Van Niekerk is in the saddle.

4 – Shouson
5 – Viva Council
7 – El Jefe
2 – Dollar Reward
Rough chance 3

Race 4 - LONGINES International Jockeys Championship – (First leg)

Here we go punters – the first leg of the LONGINES International Jockeys Championship (IJC). This race is over 1000 metres. You will need some luck here and you will need to jump cleanly.

I like the Japanese jockey Yuga Kawada to claim a narrow victory here in the first leg of the challenge. He rides Happy Good Guys (11) from barrier 4. This runner has been racing well at Sha Tin and had a recent trial here at Happy Valley a fortnight ago.

If you are wanting to back a jockey – you cannot go past Ryan Moore. He has won the IJC previously and has a nice ride here from the Tony Cruz team in Flying Genius (7). This is only his second start in Hong Kong being sold from Australian interests. His debut at Sha Tin a month ago was solid. Since then he has barrier trialled at Sha Tin and ran nice time.

Karis Keetan is the best chance from the locals here on the John Moore trained G Unit (2). He won here last start and has drawn well again. He has had a six week freshen up and has trialled up well a month ago. Moore is a master at keeping his runners in fine fettle to perform at these big events – do not let this one get under your guard.

Very Sweet Orange (4) is a topical tip – as I am writing this I am sipping on some nice orange juice for breakfast at the hotel. This runner loves this Happy Valley track with all career wins here and three placings as well. He has drawn wide in barrier 10 – look for him to cross the field with the defending champion rider Silvestre DE Sousa in the saddle. He may be hard to run down if they leave him alone in front.

11 – Happy Good Guys
7 – Flying Genius
2 – G Unit
4 – Very Sweet Orange

Race 5 - LONGINES International Jockeys Championship – (Second leg)

Leg two of the IJC over 1650 metres.

Flash Famous (3) is well named as I think we will hear more about the jockey riding this as his career develops and he too becomes “famous” – Colin Keane from Ireland. He is a very talented rider and was runner up last year here in the IJC.

The runner, trained by Frankie Lor, won his past two starts here prior to a short let up and an average barrier trial recently. Whilst he will not lead is probably going to be suited by the pace of the race and will race just off the speed.

Let’s Take It Easy (1) is trained by Peter Ho and will be ridden by British rider Oslin Murphy. I just like this runner dropping back from Class 3 to Class 4 races recently. I think that he will be suited here and will get a nice trail into the race.

Dream Warriors (7) looks the likely leader for the Hong Kong team of Tony Cruz and Karis Keetan. Drawn ideally in barrier 1 he will drive out and take up the running. This runner gives Karis another chance of posting points in the IJC.

Ryan Moore could sneak another place as well with Righteous Mate (9). He races best with speed in the race and it looks like he gets these conditions in this race. Tony Millard is the trainer and his horses always perform well here at Happy Valley.

3 – Flash Famous
1 – Let’s Take It Easy
7 – Dream Warriors
9 – Righteous Mate
Rough chances 8

Race 6

A break in the big feature races here to let the jockey’s recharge and get ready for the final two races. This race is over the mile.

I like Blastoise (2) to have his first look at Happy Valley and post a win. Sometimes this is a major challenge when they come here, however I feel that Ryan Moore will give him the run of the race.

Zac Purton rides Zhan Jiang Rocks (3) who races better when he can race close to the speed. Tonight, he gets that chance drawing barrier 2 – watch out for a Purton special ride to get this runner home.

Royal Racer (6) races well here and has been very well supported in his past three starts. He will be ridden by Keetan and looks like a solid chance.

2 – Blastoise
3 – Zhan Jiang Rocks
6 – Royal Races
8 – Shining On

Race 7 - LONGINES International Jockeys Championship – (Third leg)

The third leg – we are back!

There is some serious speed in this race – I am looking for one to finish over the top of them late.

James McDonald (go Australia!) rides Solar Wai Wai (5) for Frankie Lor. Now this runner has drawn well and will sit in behind the speed. It’s his first effort at the mile. That is my only concern, however, with the genuine speed, I think he will get a nice trail into the race and finish it off strongly.

The late swooper that will come fast wide and late is Flying Quest (4) to be ridden by Colin Keane (the luck of the Irish – maybe needed here). This runner loves the speed on in his races as he gets back and storms home late. With five wins here out of 7 career wins he must be respected, and he gets race conditions to suit!

Beauty Day (6) will be ridden by the French rider Pierre Boudot. This runner will take up a prominent spot in the running – he may even try to lead – but barrier 9 may be of some concern. Respect this runner.

Joao Moreira rides Crown Avenue (10) and he will need all of his “Magic” to see him salute … BUT, be warned, this runner is drawn perfectly in barrier 3 and will probably push up and hold the rail – If he sneaks home around this tight turn at Happy Valley watch for Moreira to lift him and get him home in this race.


5 – Solar Wai Wai
4 – Flying Quest
6 – Beauty Day
10 – Crown Avenue
Rough chances 1 & 2

Race 8 - LONGINES International Jockeys Championship – (Fourth leg)

The Championship round – who will win this year’s IJC – who will reign supreme?

If my calculations are correct there are at least four riders that can claim victory leading into this last race!
An 1800 metre race for the final race – as open as the Sydney heads!

David Hall trains High Rev (10) and it will be ridden by Karis Keetan – can he be the first Hong Kong jockey to claim victory in the IJC?

This runner has started a very short price in his last two wins here at Happy Valley over 1650 metres – he looks like a nice runner to progress to 1800 metres. He has had a solid hit out in a barrier trial at Sha Tin over 1200 metres last week. If he can run out a strong 1800 metres, he should win this race!

Happy Dragon (6) trained by John Moore has a tremendous record here at Happy Valley. He has had a month off and has tasted success here over the 1800 metres – watch out for a bold performance. Italian Frankie Dettori is aboard for this race.

Glorious Artist (4) is another nice ride for the Irishman Colin Keane. This runner is trained by the astute Frankie Lor. With some speed in the race he will need some luck but should be finishing off strongly.

Green Luck (1) is dropping sharply back in grade from Class 1 to Class 2 here for trainer Casper Fownes who has been having a great run of success in recent meetings. The Japanese rider Yuga Kawada oversees this runner. This runner goes well at the track and is on a ten day back up after a nice effort at Sha Tin over a mile when he was storming home. Reviewing that run would suggest that he will be doing the same here!

There are plenty of other runners that may show up – Helene Charisma (2), Turin Redstar (3) and Ruthven (5) who just hasn’t had much luck since he won the Group 1 Queensland Derby in 2017. Maybe he can turn it around here?


10 – High Rev
6 – Happy Dragon
4 – Glorious Artist
1 – Green Luck
Rough chances 2,3 & 5

Race 9

As most of you will be in bed by now – let’s keep this short and sweet!

The race is called the Australia Handicap – let’s hope it is JAY MAC (James McDonald) victory!

Joao Moreira has a nice ride to finish the program off – Dancing Fighter (6). He won here last start and is trained by Casper Fownes. Despite being drawn in barrier 10 I think he should race well here.

We could well see the two Hong Kong racing premier riders going stride for stride, whip crack for whip crack in this last race as I expect the Zac Purton ridden Joyful Union (1) to be hardest to roll. He has drawn well in barrier 1 – normally gets back in his running but I think Purton may have him a little closer from the nice barrier.

Island Shine (3) is an ex-Australian runner second up in Hong Kong. is first run at Sha Tin showed that he has settled in well and he may just pose a problem for these more fancied runners.


6 – Dancing Fighter
1 – Joyful Union
3 – Glorious Artist
4 – Green Luck
Rough chance 9


IJC Points

If I am right the standings should be:
Colin Keane 22
Karis Keetan 20
James McDonald 12
Yuga Kawada 12

BUT – keep in mind if Keane cannot place in the last leg (Race 8) the victory will go to the Hong Kong rider Karis Keetan for the first time!


Early Quaddie (NSW races 2 to 5)

1,8,9 / 4,5,7 / 2,7,11 / 1,3,7 - cost is $81 to $1

Quaddie (races 6 to 9)

2,3,6 / 4,5,6 / 1,4,6,10 / 1,3,4,6 - cost is $144 to $1

SUPER 6 (HK races 4 to 9)

7,11 / 1,3,7 / 2,3 / 4,5,6 / 1,4,6,10 / 1,3,6 - cost is $432 to $1

Treble (races 7 to 9)

4,5,6 / 1,4,6,10 / 1,3,4,6 - cost is $48 to $1


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