Zac Purton to return from injury at Happy Valley

Bidding for a hat-trick of wins and a fifth overall Joyful Win has hit career-best form and he’s got trainer Ricky Yiu believing there’s plenty more still to come ahead of Wednesday evening’s (12 January) Class 3 Kowloon City Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley.

“He’s very consistent – I wouldn’t be surprised if he can get up to Class 2. I think he is still improving – he’s only lightly raced but he’s improving out of sight,” Yiu said.

The speedster spaced his rivals two starts ago before making his Class 3 debut a winning one last month – both times with Matthew Chadwick in the plate at the city circuit.

“He’s in cracking form – he’s holding his condition and he’s very consistent, especially at Happy Valley,” Yiu said.

Tomorrow night, Joyful Win (126lb) will have to contend with gate 12. He has Chadwick engaged once more against 11 opponents including Harmony Fire (133lb), Special M (121lb), Stoltz (121lb) and Heart Conquered (120lb).

“He was performing as a three-year-old but now he’s doing it as well as a four-year-old, he’s an up-and-coming youngster,” Yiu said.

The Australian-bred crossed the line fifth in a recent trial on the dirt at Sha Tin, clocking 1m 10.16s under a firm hold over 1200m behind Hot King Prawn.

“He had a funny shaped foot – his right fore was a funny shape, but it’s been looked after, the specialist has looked after him and the farrier has formed it into a better shape – I’m very thankful,” Yiu said, referencing an injury in May, 2021.

The Shooting To Win gelding has risen 16 rating points across his past two wins; he now sits on a new-high mark of 73.

Yiu also saddles World Famous for the Class 3 Lok Fu Handicap (1650m). The on-pacer steps away from gate one with Matthew Poon atop, eyeing a first win since early 2020.

“I’m backing him up over 1650 metres, last time he ran over 1800 metres (on 5 January), but I think he’s a horse who is still adjusting his rating.

“He was a little disappointing last run – I hope the bottom of Class 3 is his right mark,” Yiu said.

The son of Reliable Man narrowly missed first-up this term, overhauled late by Meaningful Star in late September, 2021. He’s since been unplaced across five starts including last week.

Champion Trainer in 2019/20, Yiu has 14 wins this term as well as an exasperating 26 runner-up efforts from 200 starters.

“I have seven runners – the stable is performing and I’m 100 percent happy with how we are going,” Yiu said.

On the card, the 64-year-old is also represented by King’s Trooper, Excellent Peers, Off The Reel, Colonel and Island Shine.

Zac Purton will make his return to race riding at the fixture with seven rides after he was injured in the fall that marred the 2021 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

Purton hops aboard the in-form Cheerful Days in the Class 3 Lok Fu Handicap (1650m), while his first ride back is aboard Red Impact in the marathon event for stayers – the Class 4 Tsz Wan Shan Handicap (2200m).

Sky Field tuned-up for the HK$12 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) on Sunday, 23 January with a fine trial under familiar ally Blake Shinn this morning (Tuesday, 11 January) at Sha Tin on the dirt, crossing the line first in 1m 11.20s over 1200m.

“He felt good, I’m really happy with him – he was bit keen early but that’s him normally, so I just brought him back and he responded nicely. I gave him a little squeeze up the running and he responded like the top horse he is,” Shinn said.

The chestnut claimed last month’s Hong Kong Sprint, enhancing his earnings to HK$25.57 million as a six-time winner from 18 starts in Hong Kong for trainer Caspar Fownes.

“He’s come through the last run really well, I think he’s on an upward spiral – it’s very exciting,” Shinn said.

In the trial, 2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Sky Darci finished second under Joao Moreira, while Russian Emperor stepped out in batch two this morning with Shinn for a midfield finish.

Computer Patch, Courier Wonder, Hot King Prawn, Lucky Patch , Master Eight , Stronger, Super Wealthy and Wellington are also entered for the Centenary Sprint Cup.

Sunday week’s fixture represents a G1 double-header with Golden Sixty pitted against six others in the Stewards’ Cup (1600m) worth HK$12 million.

Wednesday’s (12 January) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the Class 4 Tsz Wan Shan Handicap (2200m).

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