Champion looks a Mega TT banker
It seems internal issues will always hamper Mega Champion, but regardless of problems, the Tony Cruz-trained four-year-old can strike in a weak middle leg of a jackpot-boosted Triple Trio at Sha Tin on Sunday.
A carry-over of HK$11.2 million is waiting for players, with an estimated dividend of HK$16 million sure to attract more bees to the honey pot.
Officials have certainly made life difficult for punters, scheduling a Class Five to open proceedings, followed by two hard Class Fours bereft of stand-out chances.
The 1,400m opening leg is there to be won for Mega Champion (Matthew Chadwick), who already has two wins this season and is coming off a solid run-on performance two weeks ago over the track and distance.
Mega Champion, an English-bred who was second in three of his four starts overseas, came to Cruz after seven runs for Almond Lee, the colt's rating dropping from 67 to 53 in his first term.
A change of stables and a significant off-season reassessment made the improved chestnut instantly competitive - the horse was third and then won second-up off his new mark of 45 over 1,200m.
Mega Champion has since battled with mucus issues and bleeding through the cold winter months, yet still won in January over this course and distance.
The problems have continued with the horse's health and he was withdrawn from a race in early April after he was found to have substantial mucus in the trachea after finishing trackwork.
Mega Champion returned over 1,400m last time out, getting a long way back from barrier eight and storming home for second behind smart looking Smiling Watch, who had received a peach of a ride from Weichong Marwing.
This time from barrier six, against a field of out of form or unproven runners, and a few desperately waiting for a drop in grade, Mega Champion should be right among it, even with 131 pounds on his back.
It's the poor opposition rather than Mega Champion's ability that has Cruz's horse on top, and therefore finding other options is tough.
Top-weight Supreme Taiji (Umberto Rispoli) goes in, even with his sluggish efforts out of the starting gates, and include Regal Army (Douglas Whyte) and Sharema Feeling (Zac Purton).
It's not often the terms competitive and Class Five appear in the same sentence, but in the opening leg five runners are coming off decent last-start efforts. Drawn to win and over a suitable 1,800m, the Andreas Schutz-trained King Galileo drops into gate four and gets the services of Whyte for the first time.
Lee stripped the weight off Noble Flier (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) and produced a first-up victory over a mile last start, after which he promised better performances over further distances and an even fitter-looking animal.
Others to include are Surrounded (Brett Prebble), after he ran on strongly last time round, Mister Horse (Andreas Suborics) and Medic Fortune (Rispoli).
The final leg sees Nicholson (Whyte) step out for new trainer Richard Gibson at what appears his best distance of a mile.
Former trainer Hall didn't do much wrong with the four-year-old, winning twice this term. Gibson has removed the blinkers and put a shadow roll on, and enlisted the services of Whyte, who is two-from-two on the horse.
Sohna (Mark Zahra) has a tremendous record and the eight-year-old has finished in the top four in more than half of his 81 starts. The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained veteran has drawn well in five and is coming off a strong last-start run.
Next in is Super Horse (Willie Pike), with Champion Mount (Alvin Ng ka-chun) and Blossom Daily (Mark du Plessis) the other options.
The amount the Triple Trio is expected to reach on Sunday