Kinane offers punters a banker parting gift
IRISH champion jockey Mick Kinane winds up his six-month Hongkong stint on Sunday and could give Double Trio punters a banker for the first leg of the bet in the fifth event at Sha Tin on International Races day.
Kinane partners Fortune Leader for David Hill - likely to have other things on his mind - and they look well placed to run in the first three in this 1,800-metre Class One event. Hill is also trainer of River Verdon, favourite in the meeting's prestigiousInternational Cup race.
Fortune Leader scored a shock win last time for a claimer over 1,600 metres at Sha Tin and the main hope for a repeat performance on Sunday would have to be a really fast pace in this event.
But that could well be supplied by topweight Right Way, another Irish import who has done remarkably well for trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee.
Right Way is a confirmed front-runner who goes exceptionally well for claimer Jimmy K. H. Ting and he will be expected to be blazing along out in front today.
Fortune Leader has been thereabouts in many Hongkong runs before actually breaking through to win last time but he finishes well over whatever distance.
Success on Sunday hinges on a fast pace or it will be a real push and shove effort from Kinane, who used those tactics with some success on lowly-rated Matinee Idol in the Happy Valley opener on Wednesday.
Despite the weight, freshened-up Right Way remains an obvious chance on his excellent form and Tony Cruz can be guaranteed to get the best out of the Peter Ng Bik-kuen galloper, Endurance.
This one can also get along in front but may not have quite the same zip and zest as Right Way.
Double Trio fans should also bear in mind the now lightly-weighted Geoff Lane galloper Fortune Duke.
Off 119 pounds today he could well come into the reckoning as he has a turn of foot and uses it when not overly burdened.
Stable rider Darren Gauci rides Asawa Dee for Lawrie Fownes but the stable's other runner, Innovation, will be ridden by claimer Vicki C. W. Choi and, despite the outside draw of 10, could be involved.
If, heaven forbid, River Verdon runs out of a place in the International Cup then there will be a massive pay-out for the Double Trio as the premier race on the calendar makes up the second leg of the bet.
As this looks totally unlikely - barring accidents - the wisdom of using the race as the second leg could be questioned.
River Verdon is the banker but punters are solidly advised to leave it to the last minute before deciding on the inclusion of English raider Mellottie.
He would have been an automatic choice for the second leg but is under a cloud. Latest reports of his overall fitness will be a clear help.
The French filly Urban Sea won't win contests on her looks but can really move.
Put her in along with New Zealand's Romanee Conti and another Hongkong runner, Wonderful World. The Ivan Allan-trained runner is in sparkling form and could reach the frame.