Encore Boy’s form reads like that of a 1,000m Happy Valley specialist but jockey Karis Teetan believes a better barrier can help the speedster stretch in distance on Wednesday night.
The Class Four King’s Park Handicap (1,200m) is just the second time Encore Boy has raced beyond 1,000m and on the previous occasion he was unplaced.
Making a difference this time is a low draw, something Encore Boy hasn’t had the benefit of lately.
Encore Boy has jumped from gates 11, 10, nine and 11 at his past four starts – all at the Valley – and Teetan said barrier two this time can negate any distance concerns.
“It seems to me that he is getting better and stronger with racing and to be honest I don’t think he is a 1,000m specialist,” Teetan said. “The draw will help as from the wide draws at 1,000m he has been getting chased around. They go very fast early in those 1,000m races and hopefully with that low draw over 1,200m he can conserve some energy.”
Je Pense (Chad Schofield) is on a mark where he is competitive and another low draw can help Michael Chang Chun-wai’s stayer win for the fourth time this season.
The Class Four Kowloon Tsai Handicap (2,200m) looks an ideal race for Je Pense and barrier two gives the six-year-old a great opportunity in a thin looking contest.
A mid-season run of outs from Je Pense saw the gelding drop back to his most recent successful rating of 53 last start.
The drop resulted in an unlucky second over 2,000m at Sha Tin in which Je Pense was squeezed for room at key stages in the straight but still finished off solidly.
Two starts back over the same 2,200m course and distance he will contest on Wednesday, Je Pense was set an impossible task when running home for fifth and ran the fastest final 400m sectional.
Zac Purton returns from suspension and gets a chance to eat into Joao Moreira’s 15-win Jockeys’ Championship lead in the first race aboard the David Ferraris-trained Raichu.
Raichu isn’t bound for any great heights but is edging closer to a breakthrough and it should come in the Class Five Jordan Handicap (1,200m)
Earlier in the season it seemed as though Raichu’s best chance of success would be over 1,000m, with a short-head defeat in November the closest the five-year-old has come to winning.
Since then Raichu has finished in the top four at four consecutive starts, including placings at his past two.
It is the improved efforts over 1,200m that are encouraging heading into this race though, especially with a softer draw.
Last time out over 1,200m, Raichu put in an excellent effort to finish just a length behind a rampant Treasure And Gold.
Jumping from gate six, Teetan tried to take a forward spot but was unable to settle Raichu into a two-wide position in the early stages.
That meant travelling three wide with no cover for much of the trip and losing ground approaching the turn as Teetan unsuccessfully tried to find cover.
Raichu still mustered a challenge and it was only a weaving ride on the winner by Purton that made the difference.
Now Purton climbs aboard Raichu and gets the benefit of barrier three, from where he won’t have to stoke the horse up as much in the early stages.
Raichu seems to produce a better sprint when given a chance to build his revs and he maps to get a nice run trailing what should be a solid speed.
Richcity Fortune (Matthew Poon Ming-fai), Rugby Diamond (Tommy Berry), First Beaut (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) and a blinkered Hot Hot Pepper (Jack Wong Ho-nam) all go forward in races.
Meanwhile, John Moore said Ruthven will press on to the Group One QE II Cup despite pulling up lame from Sunday’s run with the trainer describing the issue as minor.