More HK travel woes and thoughts on the International Jockey Challenge
HONG KONG - If you thought my 24-hour delay arriving in Hong Kong was the worst of it, let me tell you it was purely an appetizer.
It's late Tuesday night and I am where I need to be (finally) at the media hotel, but with neither of my suitcases around and only the clothes on my back for the time being. Apologies in advance to anyone who might be standing near me at Wednesday morning's trackwork. There's also a chance I might be looking pretty shabby for the evening racing at Happy Valley as well, although Pat Cummings has kindly assured me all is well and good in that regard.
Nine hours into a 15-hour flight with, maybe, eight hours of sleep total in the preceding 40+, are the conditions in which I began studying the four races that comprise the International Jockeys Challenge at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
With available study time in short supply between my exit from the plane and post time Wednesday evening after being in transit 48 hours, cramming in fatigue mode will generally have to do. I beg readers' forgiveness if the observations made by this rookie of Hong Kong's bread-and-butter fare ultimately proves slightly wide of the mark.
1st leg - Race 4 - post time 7:10 a.m. (EST)
The maiden Premiere (#4) is one fast fellow, but experience might rule the day in this opener. Top Bonus (#2), though winless at this distance, showed improved form on the drop to this level last time despite getting bumped at the start. He wears a tongue-tie for the first time here. Massive Move (#10) has been win-shy during his career, but has had troubled trips of late and just might contend with a little more luck in running.
2nd leg - Race 5 - post time 7:40 a.m. (EST)
Sparkling Sword (#4) with U.S.-based jockey Florent Geroux is the horse to catch, but has come out on the wrong side of photo finishes in his last two. Giant Turtle (#6) is in fine form of late and is sure to get plenty of play with world-dominating Ryan Moore in the saddle. Good Choice (#1) and Happy and Healthy (#5) can be on the scene late for a piece or more.
3rd leg - Race 7 - post time 8:40 a.m. (EST)
Geroux is aboard another serious win threat in Works of Art (#2), who just broke his maiden in career start number four and has lots more upside than nearly all of these. Kiram (#1) showed improved form dropping to this level when a troubled second last time, but has yet to win in 24 attempts in Hong Kong. Win It (#5) picks up a couple pounds after posting a 36-1 upset at these conditions November 16.
4th leg - Race 8 - post time 9:10 a.m. (EST)
This might be the most contentious race of the four. Ryan Moore is sure to backed on Beauty Prince (#3), who narrowly missed in his last two. Pearl Warm Warm (#10) has been knocking on the door of late and couldn't quite recover from a tardy beginning last time. Ten Flames (#1) looks a logical threat, while Bullish Smart (#2), Vara Pearl (#8), and Royal Partner (#12) might be ones to use underneath.
Who will win the Jockey Challenge? I'd give Hugh Bowman and Florent Geroux a chance to rack up the most points.