Zac Purton almost pinched a win on Sunday with Friends Of Ka Ying and the two will have a crack at going one better when they backup at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The Australian controlled the Class Three Dongguan Handicap (1,600m) at Sha Tin and it was only a smart move by Karis Teetan on Circuit Number Two to level up with him on the turn that saw Friends Of Ka Ying go down by a shorthead.
It was the third second in a row for the Caspar Fownes-trained seven-year-old and he has now gone over two-and-a-half years without a victory (he has placed 12 times since then), but he looks a strong chance of breaking that drought at the city track in the Class Three Oi Man Handicap (1,650m).
Friends Of Ka Ying has drawn the outside barrier in the field of nine, but that shouldn’t provide too much of a problem as there doesn’t look to be much speed in the race, with the only other front-runner, Thunder Stomp (Victor Wong Chun), landing gate one.
Given that, Purton should have the option of crossing and leading, or sitting off the apprentice before letting down in the straight.
After going winless at Sha Tin on Sunday, Purton should have every opportunity to strike back with a full book of rides on Wednesday night.
It ended an astonishing streak of 16-straight meetings with a winner for the 35-year-old – the previous time he didn’t come home with a victory was the Happy Valley card on May 23.
Most of his rides will be towards the top of the market with Split Of A Second, Victory Power, Turf Sprint, Eighty Eighty and Turin Redstar all strong chances.
One of the other horses creating plenty of interest on the card is another from the Fownes stable in Limitless.
The five-year-old, who won the 2016 Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot, has a stack of ability but really struggles to put it together, regularly over-racing and harming his own chances.
But that wasn’t the case in his most recent outing at the Valley on July 4, when Douglas Whyte managed to put him to sleep midfield on the rail and he exploded in the straight to record his second victory in Hong Kong.
If the five-year-old now has the maturity to show his best and Whyte has worked out his quirks, then he will be tough to beat in the Class Two Wah Fu Handicap (1,650m).
Another one to keep an eye on is Peter Ho Leung’s veteran Ten Flames in the Sheung Tak Handicap (1,650m).
The eight-year-old finished off last season with a couple of runner-up efforts and he is back in Class Four on Wednesday night – a grade where he has two wins and two seconds from his past four starts.
With Megatron (Wong) and Sparkling Sword (Matthew Chadwick) likely to set a solid pace, Ben So Tik-hung should be able to find some cover at the back of the field from barrier seven before launching his assault in the straight.
If Ten Flames can prevail, it would give Ho and So their first wins of the season.