Turf set to Star for in-form Wong
TURF Star can continue Alex Wong Siu-tan's tremendous season by taking the second event at his afternoon's Happy Valley fixture which opens a feast of racing this weekend. The racing circus starts at the city venue and is then straight on to Sha Tin tomorrow. There are heaps of betting opportunities so don't go chasing should it not go to plan straight away. And pick your punches by sorting out a handful of races you really want to get involved in over the weekend, otherwise the stakes will be scattered all over the place and when you do collect you won't have had enough on.
Turf Star is moving up to Class Three company having won well in Class Four last time over today's 1,200-metre course and distance. On that occasion he made all the running to score by a comfortable 33/4 lengths from American Way with the third, Noble Knight, beaten eight lengths.
The form of that race is working out well as Noble Knight has won comfortably since, admittedly taking a voluntary demotion into Class Five.
Fourth-placed Hammerhead came out and ran a good second to highly promising Ablaze and the seventh Top News has since run second on the dirt. What's more, Turf Star may still be well handicapped on the bare form of that win, let alone when the improvement he has made in his trackwork is considered. He ran from a mark of 43 when trouncing American Way but recorded a figure of 61 according to my private handicap. He is due to compete from a mark of 57 this afternoon.
So the handicapping department have arguably left Turf Star some leeway, especial given the quality of his recent work. He has taken time to get the hang of galloping and racing competitively and it was only two starts ago that out-and-out inexperience cost him victory at 150-1 when he was caught close home by Chiu Chow Kid. There can be no doubting that sheer racing experience has led to natural improvement as he knew much more about things when beating American Way where he had the rest of the field strung out as if they'd just finished the Melbourne Cup, not a Valley sprint.
That is another sign of very good form. Turf Star has also been burning up the main Sha Tin work track in the mornings and looking to have progressed markedly both physically and mentally for his races. He went particularly well earlier in the week in a solid piece with his Class Two rated stablemate, Winning Horse, whom he went every bit as well as, if not better. Turf Star is probably worth a win investment at as short a price as 5-2. Should he start at 3-1 or greater than he becomes serious value.
Anything less than 5-2 and the gloss is removed and stakes should be cut accordingly.
The best quinella leg is the Neville Begg-trained Eternal Harmony who has either been racing over the wrong - too far - trip of late or ridden by an inexperienced apprentice who has made far too much use of him. This afternoon he is back to 1,200 metres and has the great French champion Thierry Jarnet on board. Like Turf Star, Eternal Harmony is well drawn in barrier two and it is possible that with Turf Star jumping from barrier five these two make every post a winning one and completely dominate this Class Three event from the front. Dick Ching is also very fast but he is going to have to work to get across and to the front from the extreme outside barrier.
And should he get to the front, the effort of getting there will almost certainly take its toll and prevent him from driving Eternal Harmony and Turf Star too mad for too long. Precious Delights may be the best of the back runners. He loves the Valley and could flash home for the tierce or even sneak into the quinella. His apprentice rider, Martin C. K. Tsang does not get anywhere near the opportunities his talents deserve - apart from River Verdon that is - and he takes a very handy seven pounds from Precious Delights.
Ever The Best is working well and going to be hard to beat in the Sports Club Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup. Hercules is at his peak for this and is worth combining with Ever The Best in a single quinella. Vital Point has been found an ideal opening in the sixth event. He looks too good for Class Five and is worth a proper win and place wager. The seventh looks a very good betting event with a revitalised Sugarloaf set to score from Galway, Mazal and Noble Dancer.