Sunflower to shine in TT's first leg
LAWRENCE WADEY, Racing Editor
Sunflower can get punters off to a bright start in the third event which opens tomorrow night's Triple Trio races at Happy Valley.
Trainer Tony P. H. Chan will be keener than ever for winners as he is locked in to a close struggle with Wong Tang-ping, Alex Wong Siu-tan and Ricky Yiu for local training honours.
And Sunflower, who was very unlucky down the straight 1,000-metre chute last time out in the race won by Another Patrol, should have things go his way in this 1,200-metre contest for local riders.
To begin with he is going to get in running and that means that barrier 11 is not such a bad draw. The worst thing for him would have been to have drawn low. Then he would have got back and been shuffled back even further.
At least this way Raymond Tam can tack across and have much more control over Sunflower's run in the first half of the race. To have drawn inside would have been like swimming against the tide.
Given that Sunflower is going to get back, he is going to need a fast-run race in order to swamp them in the final 100 metres.
The likes of Segurado and Holy Terror are going to ensure the speed is on from the moment the gates open - especially Holy Terror who is drawn on the extreme outside leaving jockey Victor C. F. Chan no option but to go forward at a rapid rate of knots.
The other thing in Sunflower's favour, besides his good recent race form and some reasonable work, is the distance of the race.
The 1,200-metre events are usually run at a tough speed. There is no hiding place at any stage of the race and they can allow the back runners to get home all over the top of their rivals.
Remember, the Triple Trio only requires you to find horses to run in the first three and the way to bet it is to use a banker or bankers in each race, thus cutting down the total stake.
Sunflower looks such a banker.
Phantasy Way is another who will be ratting home and merits consideration while Wonderful is worth another chance, La Charmer has improved significantly since joining Ivan Allan and Sir Valid will find the company easier.
Guts has very solid form to his name in his most recent outings and could make a bold bid to lead all the way in the fourth under apprentice Eddie Lai.
One good judge pointed out at trackwork this week that Lai appears to have improved in that he is now more balanced on his mounts.
And given that apprentices are usually at their most effective on leaders in sprints or, put another way, at their least ruinous, his seven-pound claim could well prove decisive.
Damien Oliver looks a significant booking for Flying Horse who is visored for the first time for the sixth, the final leg of the Triple Trio.
Flying Horse has been crying out for a move to a mile and gets that trip for the first time tomorrow night.