Quick back-up should do the trick for Happy Tumbler
It isn't often we have two bites at the same cherry within three days, but the David Hall-trained Happy Tumbler can turn Sunday's all-weather defeat upside down to win the Cafeteria Handicap (1,800m) at Happy Valley tonight.
Happy Tumbler (Brett Prebble) was heavily backed when he was unable to overcome an on-pace bias on the dirt - unfortunately, a situation that is all-too frequent on that surface.
But the four-year-old raced well, taking more than four lengths off the leading runners from the top of the straight in an effort that bodes well for his return to the city track.
Hall is one of Hong Kong's best trainers, so seeing him back the gelding up only a few days later is a clear sign he has come through that race in good shape. And horses backing up so quickly have a fine winning record.
This season, 52 horses have run again within four days of racing, and eight of those have won and another 10 placed. Look no further than Macho Expresso on the weekend for Hall's latest quick back-up horse to run well.
Happy Tumbler will return to the scene of his 1,650m wins, but this time he tackles an 1,800m race for the first time in his career. That is the question mark for the son of Danehill Dancer, whether he can produce the same finishing acceleration at the end of 1,800m as 1,650m - 150m extra can be a long way at times.
If he does cope with the added trip, then Happy Tumbler will be the horse they have to beat from a good draw and carrying only 120 pounds.
At the other end of the race - and the other end of the spectrum of racehorses - will be his main danger, Billion (Howard Cheng Yue-tin).
Billion is a natural front-runner with very little acceleration, but his toughness and willingness have never been questioned.
He is a far better horse at the Valley than at Sha Tin where his last two failures took place, and he had excuses over 2,200m at his most recent Valley run when forced to work early with a big weight.
He will bowl along in or near the lead, depending on how much opposition he finds for the front, and the grey is a real competitor at the finish when he gets the right run.
The number of runners, out of 52, who have won on a quick back-up (four days) this season: 8