BETTORS need to keep an eye on the weather before wagering their hard-earned cash at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley today.
For over 90 per cent of the season, racing in Hong Kong takes place on a good to firm surface, but when the rain comes, it’s all change.
Last week for instance, both at Happy Valley and Sha Tin, form book students were throwing their arms up in the air with despair!
During racing at Happy Valley a sudden downpour of biblical proportions turned the surface from good to yielding, and it was a similar scenario at Sha Tin last Sunday.
Some jockeys were coming back into the stewards’ room and reporting their well-fancied horses, who had been sunk without trace, couldn’t act on the rain-softened surface.
With rain forecast in the city this afternoon, it will be well worth monitoring the weather on the TV screens for any update.
One jockey who won’t mind the rain, having had to suffer similar conditions in the United Kingdom, is young Irishman Oisin Murphy, who returns to the city for the second time to take up a four-meeting offer.
Local racing enthusiasts will remember Murphy from a couple of seasons back when he took up a four-month contract to improve his race-riding skills, with relative success.
This time he returns, but with a reputation as one of the world’s top race riders, having partnered 10 Group One winners around Europe and Dubai.
Murphy has been booked for half-a-dozen rides at the Valley this afternoon, although none of them have outstanding claims on form.
However, it could be worth keeping an eye on his mount King Of Mongolia, especially if the rain is falling, in the 1.15pm over 1m2f.
The Richard Gibson-trained campaigner has frankly been disappointing this season but did win from a 9lb higher mark last year and, more importantly, has won twice on ground described as yielding.
The race looks competitive with the likes of You Have My Word, who won last time out, and well-handicapped Good Days and Happy Rocky in opposition, but if the rain gets into the ground, King Of Mongolia is capable of a surprise at attractive odds.
For the best bet of the meeting, it is worth supporting the Caspar Fownes trained E MASTER, who lines-up in the six-furlong dash at 1.45pm.
On paper, this looks ultra-competitive with numerous horses having a chance on recent form, but if E Master reproduces his latest performance when an unlucky fourth over the course and distance three weeks ago, he should win.
On that occasion, having started from a negative double-figure draw, he found himself positioned near the rear of the field turning into the home straight, and was then carried wide by horses racing on his inside.
He then produced a blistering late dash to finish just out of the frame, and would surely have won in a few more strides.
His closing 400m sectional time was the fastest of the evening in all six furlong races, and if that wasn’t enough, the winner Fantastic Fabio successfully carried his penalty to victory last Wednesday.
E Master 1.45pm Happy Valley