Meetings like Happy Valley on Wednesday night tend to throw out untrustworthy form going forward so black bookers aren’t easy to find but surprise winner Gracious Ryder looks capable of building on his surprise win.
Sometimes the truth of a track bias is less important in form analysis than the fact of its perception and every man and his dog believed Happy Valley on Wednesday night had a heavy on-pace bias, despite three of the eight winners coming from a long way back on the home turn.
So, there may well have been some bias but as that belief progressively infected the employment of tactics through the night’s racing, it became clear that, whatever the bias, it wasn’t so strong that it couldn’t be trumped by tempo, several times.
Anyway, Gracious Ryder had already caught the eye when he wasn’t beaten too far at his Sha Tin debut in February despite being knocked over early in the race, and his most recent fifth behind Richcity Fortune had also been solid.
In a slow pace, Gracious Ryder was too keen for his own good and then was held up in the straight.
He didn’t look to have anything in his favour on Wednesday from an awkward barrier but the bias idea put a bit of pep into the pace and allowed him to close off strongly and win. Winning again this season isn’t out of the question if trainer David Hall can find the right spot to run him but the three-year-old has his best ahead of him next season.
Catching the eye again in defeat in an earlier race was Numero Uno, who was unplaced behind Master Viking but made up a lot of ground from the back half of the field.
Numero Uno had run a couple of decent races in Class Three in April-May but is now at a rating where he looks really dangerous after dropping to Class Four recently.
A wide gate played against him on Wednesday but he won a race late last season when he got a low draw at Happy Valley and he can improve if that recipe comes his way again.