Commander could prove a grand banker
Grand Commander looks a useful banker in a tricky opening Triple Trio leg at Sha Tin tomorrow.
The Derek Cruz-trained gelding has taken time to come back to himself this campaign and it was only really last time out that he showed something like his form of last season.
His best effort 12 months ago came when third to Gold Yue Yee over 1,400 metres in the Flyaway Cup on the final day of the season.
On that occasion Grand Commander ran to his official handicap rating of 65, according to my private ratings.
Last time out he was racing from an official mark of 55 when fourth to Mr Intermac over 1,400 metres at Sha Tin and ran to just about that figure.
It was the best effort Grand Commander has put in this season and, perhaps significantly, multiple champion jockey Basil Marcus who rode him that day has been very keen to stick with him.
Grand Commander also appears to have progressed since then and was noted going particularly well in his most recent gallops.
All the same, this is a tough contest and Triple Trio players who get through this leg will surely breathe a sigh of relief.
Gagne Vite is now racing in top form for John Moore who has taken the trouble to book Eric Saint-Martin who is arguably riding better than anyone at present.
Golden Era loves to bowl along in front and seems to be holding his condition well. He looks the natural leader in this race and the short straight is in operation. That marks him down as a Triple Trio must especially with the man on top, Douglas Whyte, riding out of his boots and his trainer, David Hayes, ultra keen on a first Hong Kong trainers' championship.
Saint Tak is all the better for a first run back from a spell when he was sent out over a mile, which is probably too far for him, and he was ridden on the far rail at Happy Valley where the ground was much slower.
Manor Lord is fitter for two runs back from a spell and, back to 1,400 metres, could well prove best of the others.
Trainer David Hill and his stable jockey Philip Robinson have been in good form of late and, as well as having tierce claims with Manor Lord, look the men to bank on in the fourth, the middle leg of the Triple Trio.
They combine for the improving young stayer, Seasons Wind, who came from a long way back to run second to the highly progressive Fat Choy Together at Happy Valley last time.
Liffey River could be worth taking as a double banker for those looking to keep down the total Triple Trio outlay.
Liffey River has something to find with Seasons Wind on their running behind Fat Choy Together but he will be suited by the move to 2,400 metres and he is an improving type.
Nansen ran a very good third to Fat Choy Together that night at Happy Valley, having been made plenty of use of, and he's since come out and won.
He is another who stays well and trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee has his stable in cracking form.
Rainbow Star won an ordinary contest at the Valley and is likely to find this company much harder.
Tremendous Way is hard to catch right but he does appear to have progressed since finishing strongly last time out to run sixth to Fat Choy Together in a 2,000-metre event at Sha Tin.
That was the opening leg of a Fat Choy Together hat-trick and an easier race than he won at Happy Valley with Seasons Wind, Nansen and Liffey River back in second, third and fourth.
The short straight should suit Dashing and he looks banker material in the sixth which concludes the Triple Trio and is not a strong race.
Roman Imp is worth serious consideration, too, as he put in a very big run when fourth to Kowloon Pride at Happy Valley.