Happy Valley is Lyle Hewitson’s happy hunting ground, and the South African jockey, full of confidence after his $4,010 treble at Sha Tin on Sunday, rates David Hayes-trained swooper Snowalot as the pick of his nine midweek rides on the proviso the city circuit plays fairer on Wednesday than it has in recent weeks.
“Snowalot has been in super form. I’d make him my stand-out runner, all things being equal, but the track at Happy Valley has been running a bit forward lately. That’d be the only thing against him,” Hewitson said.
“Last time, he was in a hopeless position considering the track bias and still made a big run of it.
“He’s very competitive. He’s got a nice draw for him. He’s a horse who probably deserves to go in again. He’s doing so well,” remarked Hewitson, under whom Snowalot has posted two firsts, one third and two fourths since they became an item five starts ago.
Another strong contender in Hewitson’s book is Douglas Whyte-prepared front runner Xponential, one of three last-start winners in the card-closing Class Three Tseuk Luk Handicap (1,200m), which is the undoubted highlight of the 77th meeting of the season.
“He was headed last time and came back to win, which just shows the heart of the horse,” said Hewitson of Xponential’s short-head success on April 12.
“He’s got good gate speed, but there are one or two really quick ones, so we can’t go hell for leather to be the leader this time. He’ll be up the pointy end, and I know for sure he’ll run another good race.”
Snowalot and Xponential have transported Hewitson to four of his 37 Happy Valley victories since his Hong Kong debut in 2019. When your actual wins exceed your expected wins, you are doing something right, and no Hong Kong-based jockey is beating the market at the city circuit by more than the South African rider.
Hewitson believes the idiosyncratic Happy Valley track enables proactive jockeys to exert more influence over the outcomes of races there than at Sha Tin.
“A lot of the time at Sha Tin, the best horse will win, whereas you can make a winning move or get a position that makes a difference between winning and losing at Happy Valley,” said Hewitson, who has ridden 19 per cent more winners at the city circuit over the past four years than the market expected.
Hewitson improved to 43 victories this term courtesy of his weekend treble – his second such feat in Hong Kong – and has set his sights on scoring a half-century.
“There are 12 meetings left. I’ve got to get seven more for 50. I want to get to that mark,” Hewitson said.
Meanwhile, Lucky Sweynesse is equal with Golden Sixty at the top of the Jockey Club’s ratings following the former’s Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m) win on Sunday.
Jockey Club handicappers raised Lucky Sweynesse’s mark one point to 131, which puts him level with Golden Sixty and one point higher than Romantic Warrior (130).
Beauty Eternal received a six-point penalty for his Group Three Lion Rock Trophy (1,600m) triumph to climb from 106 to 112, while Sha Tin Vase runner-up Victor The Winner copped a five-point increase to ascend from 101 to 106.