Dirt-lovers appeal in TT minefield
It is not quite one of the SAR's wonders, but the Hong Kong Tourism Cup is a cracking race with which to conclude tomorrow's Triple Trio on the Sha Tin dirt.
The card's two clear form chances for the sixth event are surely the Tony Cruz-trained Medic Pearl and David Hill's Supreme Bases. But don't leave out Ablaze, who is a confirmed dirt performer and ran a big race when third to All Good last time out.
Medic Pearl could hardly have been more impressive when scoring second-up this season, fulfilling the promise he had shown as a griffin.
He went to the line with his head in his chest to beat Midas King by a very comfortable 1.75 lengths.
The handicapper has raised him 16 pounds for that victory and he's now competing in Class Three. But the way he has worked since that facile victory suggests he is capable of handling the stiffer Class Two opposition and the jump in the ratings.
He should also relish the move to 1,800 metres from a mile.
Supreme Bases had good form in Ireland before joining Hill's stable.
He benefited from the move to 1,800 metres last time out, when he ran second to Pride And Joy in an effort that marked him as an almost certain future winner.
Since then, he has trialled tremendously well and, despite the ease of Medic Pearl's victory, it is hard to split this pair. They both appear to be cast-iron bankers.
Ablaze blew the start under apprentice Richard So last time out and was also checked in running.
Under the circumstances, he did well to run third and now has Wendyll Woods back on board.
Ablaze has very good dirt form and is one of the main Triple Trio picks behind the front two.
On Shan Speedie loves the dirt and is even better suited to the 1,800-metre trip than the mile he won over last time. He's worked fluently since that victory.
Musical Insight looks to be the best of the others, although he was possibly flattered by his placing last time when he ran home late to snatch third.
Schnitzer is a confident banker in the fourth, which is the middle leg of the Triple Trio.
If he had not been inconvenienced at the start last time, he would probably have given Manor Lord and Roaring Star plenty to think about.
Jackie Tse now has the ride and he'll be keen to get among the winners after a lacklustre season to date.
Schnitzer is also potentially well handicapped on a number of runs from last season, and has no trouble handling the 1,150-metre dirt trip.
Centre Court loves the dirt and is back in the right grade, and Right On has improvement in him. Don't be put off by apprentice Win Chung's booking, as she is now riding with much more confidence and nearly pulled off an upset on Right On when he made his debut last season.
Strong Win has form claims and it could just be that dirt specialist Third Time Lucky has picked up in his work.
Race three opens the Triple Trio and it looks a minefield of a contest, featuring a number of disappointing types.
Gran Senorum indicated he was running into form last time out and he is probably as good as any, in terms of trying to locate a banker.
He'll miss the start because he always does, but that isn't necessarily a disadvantage on the dirt where, in the mile races and beyond, they tend to go very fast, too fast, and the back runners swamp them late.
A lot will also depend on how the track is prepared. Last time it heavily favoured those coming home late and off the rail.
Captive Trick should be able to stay the trip and has very good dirt form.
It's not only horses who improve after joining Lawrie Fownes. So do apprentices.
The claimer Henry K. C. Tsang is proof of this and he looks value for his 10-pound allowance.
He's entrusted with the ride on Captive Trick, and the weight concession could come in handy.
Rocket Green is another solid form hope, while Grand Way shaped as if returning to form last time, but is doubtful over the distance, while Sound Gallop finally lived up to some promising work last time.
Bounty used to be a special on the dirt, but that was when television was still in black and white.