WITH Happy Valley having its seasonal renovation, the mid-week action switches to Sha Tin on the dirt surface and under the floodlights.
Many local professional bettors are always wary of racing on dirt, with so many imponderables to consider.
With humidity always high in the city, sometimes the track will suit horses who race up with the speed from the off, and other times, the advantage swings to fast finishers who flash down the centre of the track.
For example, at last month’s night meeting, horses who travelled near the front from the off won six of the eight races. But a couple of weeks later, horses who travelled near the rails on the dirt track were at a big disadvantage.
Interestingly, the draw doesn’t play a big part in six furlong races, with horses drawn high and low having a fair percentage of wins. It appears more important in races over the extended mile.
With the start in front of the stands, and the run to the first bend only a few hundred metres, horses with high draws are at a disadvantage.
They either have to work very hard from the off to try and get a good position or get caught wide for most of the race.
Apprentice jockeys are always worth following on this surface as there are so many track trials on dirt in HK. The likes of young claimers Dylan Mo, Matthew Poon and Jack Wong are worth their weight in gold.
They are able to hone their timing and pace skills regularly throughout the weeks, and their valuable 5lb and 7lb claims count for a lot during the closing stages of races.
Young Mo, in particular, has been a revelation this season. The 24-year-old, who sits just outside the top half dozen pilots in the jockeys’ championship, has ridden 22 winners – eight of which, alongside another eight places, have come from just 38 rides on the dirt.
He has half a dozen rides this afternoon, all of which are worth keeping an eye on, but especially the well-handicapped BLOCKER DEE (2.20pm), who looks to be running into form and is well-drawn.
Hardly a race-meeting goes by in HK without champion trainer John Size and ‘Magic Man’ jockey Joao Moreira teaming up for a winner or two to keep the local racing fraternity happy. Indeed, it happened again last Sunday with Eastern Express.
The partnership, which boasts a 28 per cent win strike-rate this season, combines with the lightly-raced but fast-improving REMARKABLE (12.45pm), who races on the dirt surface for the first time over 1m1f.
This son of 2000 Kentucky Derby fourth More Than Ready has been given a typically patient Size preparation with just four runs this season, but each race offered an improved performance.
There was a lot to like about his Happy Valley effort over the trip a fortnight ago when coming from an uncompromising position turning into the home stretch, he then dashed late to snatch the runner-up spot.
His track trials on dirt have always been encouraging, and you can guarantee he will prove much better than his present handicap mark.
Draw 13 is not ideal, but if you had to bet on one jockey finding cover, and getting some luck early on, it would be Moreira!
Remarkable 12.45pm Sha Tin
Blocker Dee 2.20pm Sha Tin