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Martin Harley’s Hong Kong Diary: Is a first Happy Valley win in sight?

Top jockey gives us his exclusive insights

I’ve been out in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks now and I feel I’m really starting to find my feet in terms of the racing and lifestyle, and I think I’ve got a great chance of riding my first winner on Wednesday.

I had rides at both the meetings last week, which meant I had my first experience riding under the lights at Happy Valley in the middle of the city. It reminds me very much of Chester but just the other way around. It’s a tight course but it’s very well cambered and safe. The racing is more tactical around Happy Valley than at Sha Tin, the other course here.

The two tracks are kept phenomenally well and I’d go as far to say they’re the best two turf tracks I’ve ridden on anywhere in the world. If we got the ground we had at Sha Tin on Sunday at Royal Ascot we’d be coming in telling the clerk of the course what a fantastic job he’d done.

It’s not just the tracks that are fantastic – there are some pretty fantastic horses here too, such as Sunday’s big-race winners Beauty Generation and Exultant.

Beauty Generation is the top miler in the world and seeing him in the paddock was a privilege as he’s an absolute monster. He’s had a very good season and he posted another phenomenal display from the front to win the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup. He was always going so easy that no one could live with him and it was another demolition display from him. He’s very good.

Happy Valley looks great under the lights

However, it was Exultant who impressed me the most when winning the Hong Kong Gold Cup. What was most striking was that he made a huge move with about five and a half furlongs to go and, what’s more, he kept going from that point all the way to the line. To go three wide around the turn at Sha Tin and to win as convincingly as he did was hugely exciting.

He used to be trained in Ireland, so there might be the hope he would travel in the next year.

My hope is I can work my way up to being involved with horses as good as those two, and I’ve been hard at work in the mornings riding track work and taking part in barrier trials as I look to build more connections and meet more people.

Away from work I’ve not been out that much. I’ve had a couple of trips into the centre of the city with Silvestre de Sousa and he’s shown me around. I also went to The Peak which is a very famous spot in Hong Kong where you get amazing views over the city. It’s well worth a visit if you ever go to Hong Kong.

The place I want to be most this week is in the winner’s enclosure, and I hope CP Power will be the horse to do that on Wednesday (1.45pm Happy Valley).

He was a winner last time and I’d be hoping he can run very well. The race conditions look to suit him and I’ve watched all his replays, so I’d really hope for a big run from him especially as he’s won around Happy Valley and looks on a winnable mark still.

Martin