Jacobee to take Valley by storm
The elevation of the January Cup (1,800m) to Group Three status this season has been the signal for the usual pattern-race suspects to turn up and the John Moore-trained Jacobee gets another feature race to suit.
Ten years after the last event was run with a Group tag at Happy Valley, the January Cup - always a decent race anyway - has been upgraded and that has brought the big four trainers out in force.
Only two of the 12 runners are not from the power stables of Moore, John Size, Tony Cruz and Caspar Fownes, and Moore dominates both on quantity, with four runners, and on quality chances.
Stable jockey Darren Beadman has gone with Jacobee and drawn the five barrier to see his choice get every hope over a distance at which he took the Ladies' Purse at Sha Tin in October.
Jacobee finds himself at that middle point now, both in terms of talent and distance, where his best opportunities will come rarely. Though a winner at 2,000m, he lacks a real sting at that distance, while 1,600m is a touch short in the high grades. Likewise, he is a step below the very best but his rating demands that, most of the time, he will have to meet them.
Tonight he gets handicap conditions in his favour, his best distance and he should get the right run through a race which promises to be unusually well run.
The conditions will suit stablemate Packing Ok (Jeff Lloyd), a danger who will get a perfect trip from gate two under a light weight and has been another to find the best just too good.
Also placed to suit at the weights is Pure Champion (Gerald Mosse), though the Tony Cruz-trained stallion hasn't enjoyed the luxury of a good barrier draw.
Happy Valley's best horse of recent seasons, Noble Conqueror (Zac Purton), reportedly bows out of racing with his fifth run in this race, but the upgrade in the status and contestants has not made his task of a third straight win any easier under 133 pounds at nine years old.