We preview the Southorn Handicap at Happy Valley on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Racing at 2.15, with a rundown of each runner and a look at potential tactics.
A fairly standard midweek meeting at the Valley but the Southorn Handicap over 1800m at 2.15GMT is interesting on several levels. First, it features a couple of notable European imports in progressive Bigwood and frustrating former G1 winner Helene Charisma. Second, it contains a few more horses who are tricky to fancy than you often find in Hong Kong. And third, things could get interesting from a tactical viewpoint. With a longer run to the first bend the draw is less important than in 1650m contests here but there is no guarantee of a strong pace. Jolly Gene and Planet Star may well go forward, while jockeys on a group of habitual holdup horses will need to be alive to the possibility of a dash for home off the final bend....
Impressive on his sole start in Ireland and is making up into a smart handicapper in Hong Kong, storming home to score over 1600m at Sha Tin then running two fine races over this trip. Unlucky to be pipped having been checked here two starts ago and travelled like a horse who is still on the up when a close third back at Sha Tin last time. Smooth-travelling style ought to give Purton options from stall 10 and hard to find many negatives in a race where most of his rivals have something to prove at present.
Very capable at this level on his day and back to a more suitable trip after a couple of AW sharpeners. Hard to take huge confidence from those two runs but is back to his last winning mark with a very capable apprentice aboard for the first time so no surprise if he shows more, especially if able to secure an easy lead.
Arrived from Australia with smart form and a reputation, so HK record of one win from 20 attempts has to go down as disappointing. Keeps slipping down the weights and wasn’t disgraced in a hot contest at Sha Tin last time but overall record suggests there ought to be a couple too progressive.
Known as Mont Ormel when beating high-class rivals – including Cloth Of Stars and Talismanic – in the 2016 Grand Prix de Paris and has finished ahead of some very smart horses in Hong Kong, too. The fact that his overall HK record reads 0-26 is alarming and he’s clearly a tricky ride who needs everything to go his way. However, his last couple of runs have been more encouraging and he has to be fairly high on the short list from a mark of just 74 even allowing for all his quirks.
Acts well here and has remained in fair heart since scoring over course and distance three starts ago. On the minus side, he has finished behind Bigwood on his last two outings and not easy to see why he should turn the tables provided both horses get a clear passage.
Both his Hong Kong wins have come over this course and distance and now 2lb below the latest of them. Behind Bigwood and Namjong Plus on his latest start but return to the Valley could help and a true gallop would aid his prospects, too.
Ho Ho Feel
Highly effective at this level when on song but has inched his way up to a mark much higher than for his latest win. Ran right up to that mark two starts ago, staying on to pip Bigwood for second in a decent race at Sha Tin, but failed to build on that last time and that’s a concern here.
Ping Hai Treasure
Won his sole start in France for Andre Fabre and has swapped one champion trainer for another in moving to John Size. Not easy to assess after just two starts in Hong Kong but showed more on the second than the first, fading at the end of a rough race, and set to do better even if he needs a major step forward to win.
Dual G1 winner in his native Argentina but latest defeat took his winless run in Hong Kong to 13. Recent placed efforts, including on the AW, read well enough without making him look any more than fairly treated if others produce their peak.
Pretty well exposed after two wins from 21 starts but goes well on the pace and recent efforts have been a little better than his bare form figures suggest. Didn’t seem to quite get home last time out, fading when stepped up to 2000m, and capable of showing up boldly at a price back at this more suitable distance.
Still fairly low mileage after just seven runs in Hong Kong and has shown clear signs of ability of late in races also contested by Planet Star. More needed but shapes as if there may be a at least a little better to come.
Patiently ridden handicapper who often runs with credit but has won just one from 25 in Hong Kong. Solid third here two starts ago, especially as he was forced wide, but never a serious threat when seventh at Sha Tin last time and has something to find with Helene Charisma on that evidence.
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