Richards right on the Mark
Mark Richards wasted no time showing why he's been added to the Racing Post tips panel, taking all before him with an emphatic five-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Richards showed his experience to read the track conditions with near clairvoyance and kicked off his run with the Caspar Fownes-trained Mr President ($106.50) in the second race.
After a slight glitch when his best bet Everest was unable to overcome the leader-oriented bias after starting from a wide alley, Richards then found four of the last five winners - HK Island Victory ($99.50), Swiss Lad ($18.50), Fifty Fifty ($20) and Successive Gains ($25.50).
A suitably modest Richards said yesterday his followers were due for a fat night, after coming up with just one winner at Sha Tin last Sunday.
But as a look at the results will quickly testify, one winner was the batting average across the panel on a day when the majority of winners arrived at double-figure prices.
And in any case, Richards found feature race winner The Duke ($66.50), which was not straight forward in a race where Town Of Fionn dominated the market at $14.
Having found both feature race winners so far this season makes Richards the form tipster, and doubles the interest in what he's selected to today's feature race six. The answer is the John Size-trained Grand Delight.
The page three headline on Wednesday (Champ or chump at $27) should have saved Racing Post punters a packet, warning of the grave risk of tumbling into early market favourite Champ de Union, even though he was to be ridden by champion Douglas Whyte.
Champ de Union, as he has done so often, disappointed with an every-chance fourth as $30 favourite. The final race at Sha Tin today looks an interesting affair, with a poll of Racing Post tipsters suggesting the two top chances are Vengeance of Rain ($36) and Agility ($53), while the Ready To Win stable entrant, Floral Dynamite, is strongly fancied at $50.
Clint Hutchison has labelled Vengeance of Rain as best bet and it's not hard to see why he's attracted to this highly-bred son of champion sire Zabeel. Vengeance of Rain originally raced in Melbourne for leading owner Lloyd Williams, under the name Subscribe. He was a high-priced yearling, as you'd expect of a son of the Group One-winning Danehill mare, Danelagh, and he had the ability to go with his superb breeding.
March is still a fair way off, but it would be a major surprise if the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby isn't the ultimately ambition for this fellow.
But the Woods brothers, trainer Sean and jockey Wendyll, have the ammunition to make this a real race with lightly-raced four-year-old Agility. Significantly, that man Richards has gone for Agility.