Ray's can continue sparkling form
Ray's Favourite made a name for himself with three Class Five victories earlier in the season but has since proven he can mix it up in grade, and a low draw makes him the standout banker in the middle leg of tomorrow night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley, which is expected to reach HK$4 million.
One of the many fruitful giveaways to emerge from the Alex Wong Yu-on retirement lucky dip, Ray's Favourite entered the yard of Peter Ng Bik-kuen at the start of this term and hit the ground running.
Ray's Favourite had 10 runs for his former handler, plummeting to a mark of 26, before Wong reached retirement age and his horses were dispersed.
After three wins in the cellar grade for Ng - all over tomorrow's extended mile at the city venue - most probably thought the fun would be over for Ray's Favourite, but four consecutive course and distance placings in Class Four have dispelled those doubts.
Douglas Whyte has ridden the five-year-old in his last six starts, and should have an armchair ride from barrier one, nestling in behind a strong tempo from perennial pacemakers Billion (gate seven) and Juggernaut (eight).
Also getting the right run after drawing barrier two, and chasing three straight wins, is the David Hall-trained El Grande (Willie Pike).
El Grande steps up in trip again after victories on the all-weather track and over 1,400m at Sha Tin. He had excuses earlier in the season over 1,650m and the likely cushy run and genuine speed will help him.
In a deep race, also include Noble De Best (Andreas Suborics) and Blossom Daily (Brett Prebble).
Sunny More (James McDonald) and Sohna (Derek Leung Ka-chun) have both drawn poorly but deserve consideration.
Two tough legs bookend the TT, the opening event a special conditions Class Four over 1,650m, with its divergent form lines making life difficult for punters.
Despite the hard to line-up nature of the race, it is two horses coming out of the same event that have some appeal as banker prospects - Hei Hei Posh (Pike) and Follow The Wind (Tye Angland).
Danny Shum Chap-shing's Hei Hei Posh has been disappointing, but a last-start course and distance second behind Billion and barrier one this time create plenty of appeal. Any sort of pace should see him charging into the contest.
Follow The Wind should get a one-off spot from barrier five, as he was when third last time out.
Ho Wongchoy (Suborics) isn't in bad form and not long ago was starting single-figure odds in Class Three and acquitting himself well. Should Suborics get across without using much fuel from barrier 11 and settle into a rhythm outside the speed, likely to be set by the hard-going but weak Win A Dozen, he will be hard to beat.
Two to watch are Always Well (Prebble) and Intellectualstride (McDonald).
The closing leg is again over the 1,650m, this time a Class Three, and last-start winner Mega Champion (Matthew Chadwick) will likely start as the top pick from a favourable barrier draw.
It is impossible to leave the Tony Cruz-trained four-year-old out of calculations from gate one, but a distinct lack of speed leaves the race open to opportunists.
One of them could be the always aggressive and adventurous Prebble on topweight Enabling from barrier 10. The stayer's ability to race on the speed make him an option, and the same goes for Horse Aplenty (Whyte).
Racing Reward (Olivier Doleuze) gets the type of soft draw (two) he needs and the blinkers come off so that should help him settle. He could run a race stepping beyond 1,400m for the first time.
Mochi (Ben So Tik-hung) and Ho Ho Life (Zac Purton) have claims but have both drawn badly.
This is the Triple Trio jackpot amount one lucky punter can collect for a $10 ticket