Danny Shum Chap-shing has been a runaway winner in the unofficial Happy Valley trainer's title this season so it seems appropriate that he looks the one to beat with Inventor in the trophy race at a rare day meeting there today.
Shum has 31 Valley wins on the board this season already, including Inventor (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) when he had his breakthrough Hong Kong win on May 18 and the Manawatu Racing Club Challenge Trophy over 1,650m gives him every chance to add one more.
It had become clear in the lead-up to that race that Inventor was warming to his task here and was nearing a success, with some sound recent performances at Sha Tin.
The switch to Happy Valley last time looked a positive too, as Inventor had run well in one of his two previous runs there and was checked out of the race at the start in the other. Bounced out and into the box seat by Nash Rawiller, Inventor simply cleared out in the run down the straight to win by almost five lengths over the same course he tackles today.
With Rawiller unable to make the handicap weight as Inventor rises in grade and drops sharply in the weights, Yeung takes over and will be hoping that from gate five he can find the same kind of trip for the gelding as Rawiller did from gate three.
The pace in the race is interesting as Club Life (Zac Purton) likes to go forward in gate one - although he has not quite got to the lead lately - and the interesting one is Lovely Delovely in barrier two for apprentice Jack Wong Ho-nam.
Lovely Delovely was once a speedy leader of short sprint races, but he does seem to have lost quite a bit of that speed and has been getting back to the rear more often in those races lately. With a sharp increase in distance to the softer tempo of the extended mile, as well as the booking of Wong, it looks like trainer Derek Cruz might be trying to get Lovely Delovely back to his old front-running ways.
In any case, Yeung should be fairly positive on Inventor and looking to be in the first few runners early and tracking the speed again as he did last time. If he can do that effectively, then Inventor will be the one to beat.
If Lovely Delovely does find the front, then Club Life should be box seated. If Lovely Delovely doesn't lead then it could be Club Life in that role. In either case, he looks the main danger to Inventor.