Michael Cox



The Happy Valley Report – September 21

Michael Cox runs the rule over a challenging eight-race Happy Valley card.

Rail position: B

Track: Good

Weather: Hot and dry during the day, top of 31 degrees.

Size's consistency still counts in Class 5s

Raging Blaze isn’t your typical John Size-trained runner to be tipping here. Rated 26, the five-year-old has lurched through two winless seasons and 16 starts to get where he is now: at the bottom of Class 5. 

He rattled off a career-best last week over 1000m and a step up to 1200m in Race 4 is just what the sprinter needs to provide owners with some much-needed joy. 

Jockey Club officials seem intent on torturing Triple Trio players, or at least boosting a jackpot that already sits at more than HK$37million (US$4.7m), by including a Class 5 to consider for the first leg of the TT. 

Combining the records of the starters in a Class 5 is always a fun way to express just how tricky they are to find a reliable type and this lot are a combined seven from 206. This might just be Raging Blaze’s birthday, and he at least provides a reliable banker for those chasing TT riches. 

From the trials

‘Drops two points, switches to the Valley, blinkers on first time and Zac Purton for Luke Currie.’ 

It sounds like a classic Caspar Fownes move but this is the scenario for another Size runner: Drops Of God in Race 7. 

Of course, Purton has fallen out of favour with Fownes but he now finds himself as a key rider for Size, while his rival Joao Moreira has shifted seats from Size to Fownes. 

Drops Of God’s last win was from a simpler time, close to 12 months ago, when Moreira would win on Size’s short-priced chances and they would climb quickly through the grades. That rise may have happened too fast, but Drops Of God still logged some solid performances; a Class 2 placing ahead of horses like Sight Success, Winning Method and Keep You Warm certainly reads as a decent reference for this; and the gelding is now back down to his last winning mark of 75.


Joao Moreira scored on Drops Of Good last October. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit/Getty Images)

Forget Drops Of God’s run on opening day. He was pushed forward from a wide gate, sat three-deep facing the breeze and was entitled to drop out late. 

The key pointer was before that start when Size slipped the shades on to the five-year-old and had Purton bounce him out of the gates in a dirt trial. 

Similar intent here from barrier five will see Drops Of God find the rail and get a favourable run.  This is a competitive race with six of the nine runners in single figures in early betting but ‘God’ – as Size is sometimes referred to  – doesn’t get horses dropping too often and this one could sneak home. 

Return bout

Pretty Queen Prawn caught the eye last week and a step up in trip should deliver the power duo of Douglas Whyte and Lyle Hewitson another winner in Race 3. He squares off against two horses that finished ahead of him over 1000m seven days earlier; See You Again – who will start favourite again – and Pierre Ng’s big-priced first winner Super Commander. 

Market watch

Dennis Yip has an astonishing strike rate at Happy Valley. And not astonishing in a good way, but more a ‘how is it possible to have that many runners and so few winners?’ kind of way. 

The Yipster’s Valley strike rate is the type of number that makes you do a triple take. Last season Yip’s strike rate in the city was 2.1 percent  (note, triple checked: four wins from 192 starts in 2021-22).  

In a system that can reward mediocrity and on a track that is so dependent on barrier draws, it is an extraordinarily low rate of success. 

The 2012-13 champion had four runners last week without striking a blow but returns this week with a Class 5 hopeful that could start race favourite. 

Race 4 looks ideal for Smart Cousin but buyer beware, especially if the market shows no love late, it might be safer to watch on. 

It's a big night for...


Ok, this should probably read, ‘it’s a rough night for others’: ‘others’ being the riders bracketed together for the jockeys’ challenge because they have very little chance of success. Small field sizes mean a dearth of opportunities for those on the fringes. Three jockeys – Antoine Hamelin, Jerry Chau and Jack Wong have two rides apiece – and three others – Dylan Mo, Keith Yeung and Vagner Borges – have one each. You can have any one of them to win the Jockey Challenge at 250-1. It could be worse: Alex Lai hasn’t had a ride since opening day.

Notable gear changes

California Forest blinkers on first time 

Speedstar blinkers on first time 

Circuit Elite blinkers back on 

Loyal Ambition blinkers on 

The Multiplier blinkers back on

Drops Of God blinkers on first time 



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