Lai can give top duo a run for their money
Oddsmakers have rounded up the usual suspects and declared tonight's Jockey Challenge another match race between Douglas Whyte and Brett Prebble, but Alex Lai Hoi-wing waits in the shadows to eclipse them both at a double-figure dividend.
Lai has won 26 races this season, but his success rate at the city venue is 35 per cent higher than at Sha Tin. The two-pound claimer has won 11 races and amassed 40 placings from 152 rides at Happy Valley, for a winning strike rate of 7.2 per cent and a place strike rate of 26.3 per cent.
Lai can bounce the ball on a winning note when he rides veteran Serious Play in the Class Five. Apart from being in the bottom grade, Serious Play needs three things to be a winning chance - Happy Valley, 1,800m and softer ground - and all boxes will be ticked tonight.
Lai can also land the sixth on Unique Speed for Manfred Man Ka-leung. The chestnut is another once-a-year performer but this is his time of the season, when the rain arrives and the tracks begin to soften.
At these midweek meetings, a treble is a moral to land the Jockey Challenge, but more usually two wins and a few placings is enough to nail it.
Lai qualifies nicely in that regard, and looks a value chance to lord it over the high-profile stars at his overnight quote of $10.
The odds compilers reluctantly split Prebble and Whyte by a mere half point, with the Australian holding sway at $3.25 favourite on last night's 7pm call from Whyte at $3.75. Weichong Marwing was third choice at $7.