Emphasis eases exotic confusion
There is an attractive $14.3 million carried forward for tomorrow's Triple Trio at Sha Tin and straight away Emphasis looks banker material in the opening leg.
Punters have to find the first three, in any order, in races three, four and six to scoop the pool and it is hard to see Emphasis finishing out of the placings.
Trainer David Oughton has been quick to snap up the in-form top Australian jockey Damien Oliver for the ride, in the absence of Mick Kinane, and while Emphasis has been done no favours by the handicapper whatsoever, he does look a very useful staying type in the making.
Kinane gave him just about the most perfect ride imaginable last time to score by a length from Tollway who put in a big run to make up so much ground off a slow pace.
The pair drew five lengths clear of the third and that is usually a sign of rock-solid form and, indeed, the form was franked by Tollway's subsequent short head defeat of Our Champion over today's course and distance on Queen Elizabeth II Cup day.
So while Emphasis appears to have plenty to do, given that he's up 13 pounds in the ratings for a mere length defeat, there are powerful reasons for thinking he can place at the very least. The first two came clear, the second has won since, Emphasis is improving and continues to impress in his trackwork and his jockey is starting to fire in no uncertain terms.
Anyone looking for an outsider could do worse than Bruce Hutchison's Cash Fortune who was travelling well when taken out of the race by Assegai, when Assegai's saddle slipped, in the race won by All Good at Happy Valley.
Prepare for a big last month to the season from the brilliant first-season Australian handler David Hayes.
That is the overwhelming message from trackwork over the past few weeks or so.
Hayes' perpetually beaming countenance veils a deep-thinking trainer's mind.
It is noticeable that he eased back on a number of his horses six weeks to two months ago and they are now showing the benefit of that astute thinking.
The likes of Shinnecock Hills and Optic General, who contest the fourth event, have never looked better or worked with greater zest or fluency.
Shinnecock Hills is now bouncing after some disappointing efforts over a mile around Derby time.
Optic General bounded home down the straight 1,000-metre chute last time on his second run back from a spell and has come out of that win in tremendous shape.
Alex Wong Siu-tan appears to have worked the oracle yet again with a recent acquisition.
Concert Fortune starts for him for the first time in tomorrow's final leg of the Triple Trio and should go close though there could be plenty of speed in this race as Ricky Yiu's confirmed front-runner Solar Century has never gone better.
This could allow something like Hayes' Noble Knight to run into the placing.