by J. Keeler Johnson

The upcoming Wednesday card at Happy Valley in Hong Kong is another nine-race affair kicking off at 6:45 a.m. ET, just in time for a morning cup of coffee (home brewed, of course.)

There’s something for everyone, but we’ll focus our attention on the second half of the card, tackling one sprint and one route with our latest spot plays:

Race 5: Mount Collinson Handicap (Class 5, 8:45 a.m. ET)

Hong Kong’s leading trainer Ricky Yiu appears to have the first-time starter #4 Excellent Chariot ready for a winning effort on debut in this 1,000-meter Class 4 handicap. The 3-year-old gelding has shown promising form in recent barrier trials, winning a test over this course and distance on Apr. 18 before finishing third by 1 1/4 lengths in a similar trial on May 5 at Sha Tin.

Excellent Chariot won’t be facing the toughest field on Wednesday, with several of his most accomplished rivals seemingly on downward slopes in their form cycles. Drawing post 1 sets up the potential for a perfect ground-saving trip, so we’ll bet Excellent Chariot to win and key him in the quinella with #2 We the South and #9 Daily Delight, lightly-raced youngsters who finished first and third over this course, distance, and class level on Apr. 22:

  • $13 to Win on #4 Excellent Chariot
  • $6.50 Quinella: 4 with 2,9 ($13)

Race 8: Ma Kong Shan Handicap (Class 3, 10:15 a.m. ET)

Call it a hunch, but I believe #7 Above has the ability to challenge in this 1,800-meter route. Conditioned by legendary trainer John Moore, Above faced a tough task when stepping up to Class 3 company and stretching out to 2,200 meters on Apr. 22, but the 4-year-old gelding ran a gutsy race, leading into the stretch before weakening late to finish fourth.

Above will cut back to a more appropriate distance on Wednesday while gaining the services of acclaimed jockey Joao Moreira. The last time Moreira guided Above, the gelding romped by six lengths in a 2,000-meter Class 4 handicap, prompting his ascent up the class ladder. Reunited with Moreira should place Above thoroughly in the hunt, and perhaps at a bit of a price too.

Let’s bet Above to win and play him in the omni/swinger with #1 World Famous, who drops in class after competing against local sensation Golden Sixty in the Hong Kong Derby:

  • $13 to Win on #7 Above
  • $13 Omni/Swinger: 1,7

Good luck!