It was no secret. Joao Moreira saved his bag of magic tricks for Sha Tin. Happy Valley really wasn’t his happy hunting grounds. Sure, he rode winners there, but he didn’t overtax himself. If he got to the front easily and knew he had a race wrapped up, fine. But if not, it seemed as if what was more important to him was not receiving any suspensions and keeping out of harm’s way.

On the other hand, his arch rival Zac Purton would ride the idiosyncratic city track with the same confidence that he exudes at Sha Tin including that kinda strange sashay as he heads off to getting weighed after riding a winner.

If he had an Achilles heel, it was the winter months and the cold weather. This was where and when there were signs of shrinkage. It seemed to dampen his mood. The sashay would be missing.

Happy Valley was also where the local boys came into their own. Somehow, they handled the track better. Or so it seemed. Especially the apprentices.

Looking at tonight’s card, it’s no surprise to see most of the Zac Attack’s mounts installed as favourites. When in doubt, back Zac. And this early in the season, everyone- jockeys, trainers and punters- are trying to figure out the lay of the land.

Of course, everyone wants to be amongst the winners. Win and that much needed support will come. Everybody loves a winner, baby.

It’s something one doesn’t believe is even lost on Zac Purton. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. And even one meeting with “only” a couple of winners will not be good enough. Drawing a blank? Tantamount to treason.

So on this first Happy Wednesday of the season, and with a massive Triple Trio up for grabs, it’s really looking away from the favourites. This means putting in the Zac Man’s rides as legs, but not banking on every single one of them. Triple Trios- picking the first three runners in any order in races 4,5 and 6- are seldom won with favourites waltzing in. There are always a few flies in the ointment.

The other strange twist of fate at Happy Valley are that the favourites rarely salute in the third and last races. Race three is the first leg of the Six Up and there’s a terrible sinking feeling to fall at the first hurdle.

Below are our choices and where we’ve gone out on a limb not to have a Zac Attack ride as our first choice in every race. Just like the last three races on Sunday where outsiders came in and with the Treble paying a very respectable $50,000, it’s all about looking for Blue Steel type value.

We’re predicting that at least two races will not go according to script. That something not on radars will suddenly come out of nowhere and create that shock value which will separate the winners from the losers. And have you making a song and dance if striking it rich.

RACE 1
Celebration (6)

Dutch Windmill (1)
Money Winner (2)
Clement Legend (7)

RACE 2
Happy Happy (7)

Starlot (4)
Young Dreamer (5)
Showing Character (3)

RACE 3
Pearly Treasure (8)

Most Beautiful (3)
Country Star (5)
Flying Monkey (1)

RACE 4
Captain Boss (8)
Winning Supreme (1)
Bundle Of Energy (4)
Lotus Breeze (3)

RACE 5
Starlit Knight (5)

Polymer Luck (10)
All You Know (4)
King’s Man (1)

RACE 6
Phantom Falcon (11)

Fairy Twins (2)
Eagle (8)
Storm Soldier (10)

RACE 7
Sky Melody (8)
Multigogo (7)
Thunderstomp (1)
Lucky Girl (3)

RACE 8
Super Hoppy (11)

Magic Legend (5)
Fortune Booth (3)
Fantastic Eight (9)

BEST BET
Race 6
Phantom Falcon (11)

NEXT BEST
Race 8
Super Hoppy (11)

OUTSIDER
Race 5
Starlit Knight (5)

PARTING SHOT