HAPPY Birthday did us a favour when simply cruising home last time. He is worth a follow-up wager in today's opening Class Six race on a super day's racing at Sha Tin where there is something for everyone. To begin with there are a number of good betting opportunities with the opening, second and sixth events all looking distinctly solveable. There is the usual mixture of intensely competitive races for those of you looking for lengthy odds and large tierce payouts. And there is sheer quality in the seventh event where David Hill's top-class sprinter Debonair clashes with the rapidly improving Multi National and his much-vaunted stablemate, Mr Vitality.
Mr Vitality has arrived in the territory with just about the best form of any two-year-old ever to come here from Australia where he ran an excellent fourth in their main juvenile contest the Group One Golden Slipper. He is by no means fully wound up for his debut, but he is a tremendously impressive individual to look at and has been leniently assessed on a mark of 95 considering he has the most solid Group One form imaginable. But back to betting matters and Happy Birthday, who should still be at 3 or 4-1 in the first, is going to take plenty of beating. He won as he liked last time out with Basil Marcus only having to push him out to account for Po On King by 13/4 lengths.
Admittedly, that came over 1,200 metres with the long straight in operation and Happy Birthday is now switched back to the straight 1,000-metre course. The trip could be a tad on the short side, but Happy Birthday has shown up well in trials down the straight. There should also be plenty of speed on with the likes of Upper Hand and Sure Day guaranteed to set a fast early pace. The trip will also be on the short side for Po On King whose solid Class Five and Six form makes him one of the main dangers. A seven-pound weight swing may not be enough for him to reverse the form with Happy Birthday, but he does represent an outstanding quinella chance.
The key to Happy Birthday's resurgent win last time was Marcus getting him balanced. Since then the Lam Hung-fie-trained five-year-old has thrived in the mornings putting in just about his best work ever when annihilating stablemate Bicycle from the barriers on Thursday morning. It was a gallop which had future winner written all over it. Raider's Luck is always a threat in this grade and has more than enough speed to be effective down the straight. He looks the other main contender.
Local rider Johnny Ho can partner Surely Wonderful to what may well turn out to be his last winner before he hangs up his boots. Surely Wonderful impressed when coming off the pace to win going away over 1,400 metres last time out and should be even better suited by today's mile trip. He has worked in exciting style since that victory and comes into this in peak condition.
The two other improvers in the race are Lawrie Fownes' Classic Boy and David Oughton's Golden Prosperity. Classic Boy ran well for a long way last time and has thrived since. He is a really good type. Golden Prosperity has always shaped as if a mile would bring out the best in him and he now gets his chance at the distance. Oughton has upped the tempo in his trackwork leading into this and the son of Tate Gallery has responded well. Neville Begg's Goodie-Goodie has only a modest field to deal with in the sixth. He seems to be at his peak in the mornings and should be at decent odds. Health First and Lucky Optimists are probably the main dangers followed by Sea Of Jasper and Ever The Best.