“Winning Faith’s rating was lower when I won two races on him at around this time last year. He felt as if he needed it when I rode him in a trial last week, but he seemed keener and fresh when I galloped him on Sunday morning and a good pace would be perfect as he always takes a bit of time to get balanced.”
Turin Redstar is likely to be one of those helping force a true pace ahead of Winning Faith but jockey Derek Leung’s hopes for a low gate were dashed as one of Hong Kong’s most consistent horses drew stall 10.
“He keeps running so well but he’s been going up in the ratings for finishing second and I was hoping for a lower barrier,” he said.
Leung replaces the suspended Grant van Niekerk aboard Little Bird in the Class 3 Venus Handicap (1200m) and a fair draw and the return of cheekpieces give Leung hope that Ricky Yiu’s speedy gelding can return to his best.
“Little Bird didn’t finish off his race last time but he was drawn wide in stall 12,” he said. “Stall six doesn’t look too bad this time and he felt good when I won a trial on him at Sha Tin a couple of weeks ago.”
Moore hoping low draw makes for a Happy Dragon Christmas
Moore and fellow trainer John Size have had plenty to celebrate in 2018 and it would come as no surprise to see one or both in the winner’s enclosure again at the Valley’s last meeting of the year.
Moore headed off for a short break in Thailand on Sunday and is hoping for a good draw and better luck for Happy Dragon in the Class 3 Mars Handicap (1650m).
His wish came with stall three and Moore is hoping that having bang-in-form Silvestre de Sousa aboard for the first time provides an added plus.
“Happy Dragon has had traffic problems on two occasions at the Valley,” he said. “He should have picked up a win by now but de Sousa is one of the strongest out there and coming back to a mile with a bit of cushion in the ground is probably up his alley.”
Size brings two of his successful Conghua team back to town when Bank On Red and Red Warrior contest the Mars Handicap and the Mercury Handicap respectively, while lightly-raced Special Stars bids to follow up a win on LONGINES IJC night in the Class 4 Jupiter Handicap (1000m).
“Red Warrior has been at Conghua for a while and seems to like it there,” the champion trainer said. “He was a bit unlucky to be beaten right on the line last time and will probably go well again, while Special Stars improved from his first to his second start to win quite handsomely and he’s probably got another win in him.”