Reignite Inner Flame at Happy Valley Today

Blinkers on for Inner Flame - first off at 12h45

Inner Flame worked in first-time blinkers at Sha Tin last Thursday (28 January) morning and trainer Douglas Whyte is pinning his hopes on not only the headgear but a change of scenery to reignite the lightly-raced gelding’s career as he makes his Happy Valley debut in the first section of the Class 3 Lai Chi Kok Handicap (1200m) today.

“I’m hoping so (to recapturing last season’s form) – I’m hoping that a change does wonders, change is like a holiday so let’s take him to the Valley, a different environment, different atmosphere and different surface – he might enjoy it,” Whyte said.

Inner Flame was a four-time winner from five starts last season. (Pic- HKJC)

The talented chestnut was a four-time winner from five starts last season but his rapid ascent through the grades has seemingly stalled with only one top three finish from four runs this campaign.

“Just to get him to focus (reason for applying blinkers), the racing is competitive enough at Happy Valley, so the blinkers going on is to help Jerry (Chau) out, to get him going and just to get him to hold the bridle,” Whyte said.

Having raced exclusively at Sha Tin across his entire nine-start career, Whyte’s 79-rater will have his first start under race conditions at the city circuit and does so with the blinkers applied in addition to his customary crossed nose band.

“It’s a bit of a wait and see, he’s carrying a lot of weight but he’s got a half decent draw and if he steps away he’ll have his chance,” Whyte said

The Zoustar gelding earned 28 rating points for his first-season heroics and is looking to recapture his budding best that resulted in a career-high rating of 80, which also came with a reputation as one of Hong Kong’s most exciting rising stars.

“He’s feeling good, he’s had a bit of time between races, he’s a fresh kind of a horse and he’s trialled well at Happy Valley before so I’m just trying something different with him,” Whyte said.

Apprentice Jerry Chau’s seven-pound claim reduces the five-year-old’s allotted weight to 126lb as the highest-rated horse in the race, and on Wednesday night the duo will break from gate four against 11 opponents.

Inner Flame’s only look at Happy Valley came in November, 2019 when crossing the line third in a barrier trial over 1000m, while the youngster’s career zenith saw him beat off the talented President’s Choice and Mig Energy who he faces again, as well as Ping Hai Bravo who has subsequently returned three wins from his most recent four starts.

On the card, Whyte has five entries across the nine-race fixture including Smart Hunter, Sea Elite, last-start winner Smiling City and Helena Baby who tackles the finale.

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