Hong Kong Preview: Purton finds Soulmate
The appointment of leading jockey Zac Purton could be enough to get #2 Soulmate back in winning form in the Cypress Handicap at Happy Valley Feb. 16.
Soulmate has been in great form in the 2021-22 season. After a couple of prep runs, Soulmate ran second at Class 4 level before going up in grade and winning twice at Class 3 level at Sha Tin.
He then blew the start badly Jan. 16, finishing 11th of 13; he showed that was best forgotten on his first visit to Happy Valley Feb. 6. On that day, over 1650m (a little more than one mile), the same distance as he faces this week, he beat all but Zone D.
In his past two races Soulmate has been ridden by apprentice Alfred Chan, but this week he gets the services of four-time Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton, who rides him for the first time.
Soulmate faces a useful field, of whom #5 Gallant Crown, #3 Leap of Faith, and #6 Kinda Cool look the best chances.
Gallant Crown won four of his last six starts in 2020-21, all of them at Happy Valley. He hasn’t won in four starts this season but he has finished no farther back than fourth, and at his last start Jan. 12, he was beaten only by Cheerful Days, who went on to win the rich Chinese New Year Handicap at his next start. Karis Teetan takes the ride.
Leap of Faith comes into the race after winning Jan 26. In that race he beat Maldives, whose form lines with Soulmate and Gallant Crown suggest Leap of Faith has good prospects against them. Third that day was Invincible Missile, who won at his next start, while fourth was Kinda Cool, who opposes Leap of Faith again this week and should go well again.
Soulmate, Gallant Crown, Leap of Faith, and Kinda Cool should be used in all exotics, while the wild card is first-starter #10 Baron Zee, a winner of one race from two starts in Ireland. #1 Bear Again may also be a factor given he is dropping back from Class 2.
BEST PLAY - HONG KONG
- $10 win/$30 show: #2 Soulmate.
- $1.30 trifecta: 2, 3, 5 with 2, 3, 5, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10
BONUS PLAY – NEW ZEALAND
New Plymouth, Feb. 17, R8 (Fasttrack Insurance Oaks Prelude)
- $10 win/$30 show, #6 Miss Ella: Close sixth in rich sales race behind some of New Zealand’s top three-year-olds Jan. 22, and this should be easier.