When: Wednesday, October 23 at 6:45 a.m. (ET).

Where: Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong.

What: A day of competitive grass racing with huge betting pools and plenty of options for handicappers to consider.

Wednesday’s nine-race card at Happy Valley is shaping up to be a good one. The defeat of reigning Horse of the Year Beauty Generation at Sha Tin last week goes to show you can never take any result for granted on the competitive Hong Kong circuit.

Let’s take a look at the Happy Valley card and come up with a couple of spot plays on a $60 budget:

Race 4: Green Luck Handicap (Class 2)

#2 Not Usual Talent showed tremendous improvement at the end of the 2018-19 season, winning a pair of Class 2 handicaps with powerful rallies from off the pace. In a 1,600-meter event at Sha Tin, Not Usual Talent sprinted the final 400 meters in :22.64 to swallow the field and record a course-and-class record time of 1:32.96. Then, in a 1,650 meter race at Happy Valley, Not Usual Talent again finished powerfully (final 400 meters in :23.17) to win in 1:38.66, breaking the overall course record.

Not Usual Talent has improved his rating by leaps and bounds, so he’ll carry co-top weight of 133 pounds on Wednesday. And with reigning champion jockey Zac Purton in the saddle, Not Usual Talent looms as the horse to beat.

For the exotics, #1 Helene Charisma – the other 133-pound highweight – warrants respect after finishing in :22.72 to win an 1,800-meter Class 2 handicap at Happy Valley one month ago. We’ll bet Not Usual Talent and Helene Charisma in the quinella and key them in a trifecta with #3 Ruthven, #4 Mr So and So, #5 Happy Dragon and #9 Playa Del Puente in the remaining slot.

Wagers

$10.4 quinella: 1,2
$1.3 trifecta: 1,2 with 1,2 with 3,4,5,9 ($10.4)
$1.3 trifecta: 1,2 with 3,4,5,9 with 1,2 ($10.4)

Race 5: Windicator Handicap (Class 4)

#3 All Wongchoy figures to attract plenty of attention in this 1,200-meter sprint, considering he’s run well at this track and class level in his first two starts, even scoring a victory on September 9. All Wongchoy has yet to run particularly fast (1:10.40 his fastest time), though, and he’s picking up four pounds off his last start.

In contrast, #2 Oriental Elite has held his own in some quicker races here at Happy Valley. Last time out, he rallied to finish third in a Class 4 handicap, sprinting the final two 400-meter sectionals in :22.98 and :22.66 to record a final time of 1:10. Back in March, he actually won over this class level in 1:09.65.

Oriental Elite continues to be rated higher than All Wongchoy, but could be overshadowed in the wagering. Let’s bet him to win and key him in the trifecta with All Wongchoy, #1 Very Rich Man and #9 Lucky Guy.

Wagers

$13 to win on #2 Oriental Elite
$1.3 trifecta: 2 with 1,3,9 with 1,3,9 ($7.8)
$1.3 trifecta: 1,3,9 with 2 with 1,3,9 ($7.8)

Good luck!

Find weekly Hong Kong spot plays from J. Keeler Johnson

Happy Valley photo © Vance Hanson