It’s a fraught situation any time the result of a Happy Valley 2,200m race is centred around a lack of race tempo, but the John Size-trained front-runner Works Of Art gets things set up to return to the winner’s list in the Singapore Turf Club Trophy on Wednesday night.
Works Of Art (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) led throughout to win over 1,800m on the dirt two runs back before a flop at Sha Tin 10 days ago, when jockey Matthew Chadwick told the stewards that the harder surface didn’t suit the gelding.
While Works Of Art has raced well at Sha Tin, he has tended to be better at Happy Valley and the all-weather, where the surface underfoot is a little more forgiving.
So, getting him back to Happy Valley was step one to finding a suitable race, and the addition of 400m doesn’t look like a hurdle that will trouble Works Of Art, a one-paced grinder who has been going better at the finish of his wins than at the home turn.
And, on paper, Wednesday night’s main trophy race plays into the four-year-old’s major weapons, staying ability and tactical speed.
There are only two regular leaders, Jolly Gene and Works Of Art, which ordinarily would lead to the conclusion that they hold a tactical advantage.
But the problem with 2,200m races at Happy Valley is the frequency with which jockeys take it upon themselves to change the game.
More than any other track and distance in town, when there looks to be a lack of speed in a race and the leaders slow up too much, we see riders take off around the field from the rear and catch the front-runners napping at the 800m.
So, with that caveat, Works Of Art looks the one to beat sitting up on a soft speed. His main rival looks Industrialist Way (Kei Chiong Ka-kei), but beware the Richard Gibson-trained Happy Contender (Nash Rawiller), who will get back in the field early but might be the one charging around them coming out of the back straight.