Hong Kong Spot Plays: Two improving runners at Happy Valley

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 26th, 2019

The Wednesday, November 27 racing action at Happy Valley in Hong Kong kicks off at 5:45 p.m. (EST), and I'm excited to play along.

The nine-race card is stacked with appealing betting opportunities. In particular, I'm looking forward to playing a couple of improving runners in the fourth and sixth races.

Want to join in? Check out these spot plays outlining my strategies for the day:

Race 4: Ferniehirst Handicap (Class 4)

In a "strike while the iron in hot" move, trainer John Moore is running #6 Above back on short rest in this 2,200-meter Class 4 handicap. The four-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding won a 2,000-meter Class 4 handicap at Sha Tin just 10 days ago, sprinting the final 400 meters in :22.66 to rally and win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Above has cracked the trifecta in his last five starts while improving his rating by 15 pounds. His strong finish last time out suggests the 2,200-meter distance of Wednesday's race is within reach, and Moore has enlisted internationally acclaimed jockey Silvestre de Sousa to ride. Taking all of these factors together, a win bet is in order.

#5 Bullish Glory, another improving late runner, recently produced an explosive finish to win an 1,800-meter Class 4 handicap at Happy Valley. His affinity for this course is a positive compared to Above, who is 0-for-2 at Happy Valley, so we'll also play these two together in the quinella.

  • $13 to win on #6 Above
  • $6.50 quinella: 5,6 ($13)

Race 6: The St Andrew's Challenge Quaich (Class 3)

The rapidly-improving #1 Gentle Breeze shouldn't lose this 1,000-meter dash. When he won a Class 4 handicap over this distance on June 26, the five-year-old son of Foxwedge recorded an overall course record time of :59.39.

Gentle Breeze has been just as impressive since stepping up to Class 3 company, winning a pair of 1,000-meter sprints at Happy Valley. Three weeks ago, he cruised clear by 2 3/4 lengths in the sharp time of :56.96. His rivals in Wednesday's sprint don't appear particularly formidable, with the class-dropping #2 Storm Signal—making his first start for new trainer Douglas Whyte—perhaps the most likely to challenge Gentle Breeze.

It's also worth noting Gentle Breeze's trainer, Ricky Yiu, has been absolutely on fire as of late. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Yiu has gone 20-for-94, a 21% win rate that is phenomenal in Hong Kong. He's been especially effective at Happy Valley, going 10-for-34 (29%). Another victory courtesy of Gentle Breeze should be in the offing on Wednesday.

  • $26 to win on #1 Gentle Breeze
  • $1.30 trifecta: 1 with 2 with ALL ($13)

Good luck!