All the ingredients for a Sha Tin feast
Three marvellous International events and a $25 million Triple Trio jackpot at Sha Tin on Sunday. Life isn't all bad.
Perpetual Harmony and Songs Of Victory, two highly progressive types, stand out in the third event which opens the TT and either, or both, depending on how much or how little you want to invest, are worth serious banker consideration.
Perpetual Harmony has thrived since English jockey Alan Munro teamed up with him, firstly for local trainer Chris Cheung and then for David Oughton after Perpetual Harmony's owner decided, independently of Munro teaming up with Oughton, to move stables.
Munro seems to have discovered the key to this horse both at trackwork and in his races and Perpetual Harmony has registered dominant wins on his last two starts.
Songs Of Victory lost nothing in defeat first time out this season and has worked extremely well since.
He could develop into a Class One performer and is slightly preferred to Perpetual Harmony as the banker for two reasons.
First of all he is blinkered for the first time and they appear to have benefited him during his trackwork sessions.
Second, he receives six pounds from the topweighted Perpetual Harmony.
Both have tricky draws to overcome in barriers 12 and 13, that's the only drawback.
Red Zone was a most progressive type last season and could well make further improvement this campaign.
His preparation suggests he's going to and he comes into TT consideration, as does Indy's Gem who may just have needed the run behind Hornet last time when also unsuited by the slow tempo and unable to find much racing room in the straight.
Grandstand has been racing well this term but Fortune Maker could find this significantly harder.
He's been re-handicapped for a straight 1,000-metre win in which he raced on the fastest part of the chute.
Wasabi has had excuses virtually all season and looks best of the others.
The International Vase, race four, provides the middle leg to the TT and already the argument has been raised that only local races should have been included in the TT as these are the races for which the punters, who have made up the $25 million jackpot, know the form.
The day's programme must be framed around the showpiece International events so the TT races themselves should have been changed from the normal three, four and six, as indeed they were to accommodate the Japan Cup.
However, the betting and handicapping departments have only just managed to grasp the need to put the day's most competitive events into the TT so it is probably asking too much for them to think of this as well.
In their defence, they have used the race with the most (six) local representatives.
Local hope Indigenous is probably the safest banker in the Vase.
He has improved significantly over the past 12 months, ran really well in the race last season and trainer Ivan Allan has an excellent record when it comes to setting his horses for these International events.
Multi-Star, another local runner, is not to be underestimated. He also ran a cracker in last season's Vase and appears to be going even better this time round.
There's also a certain Irish gentleman on his back, by the name of Mick Kinane who, in these big races, is a bit like Liverpool Football Club in their glory days. Liverpool used to win when not playing to their peak. Kinane didn't play to his peak on Luso in last year's Vase but still won the race and that is he - a winner.
The German runner Ungaro comes here after running unplaced in the Japan Cup. He would probably prefer an easier surface than he's likely to encounter at Sha Tin on Sunday but he does look a good type and has strong European Group One form.
Strategic Choice, the English runner, loves fast ground and is worth throwing in on that basis, especially with his jockey, Kieren Fallon, riding so well.
The New Zealand runner, Darazari, is another to consider. He's impressed in the mornings.
The improving Perfect Victory looks worthy of banker status in the sixth, which concludes the TT.
Classic Boy is in fine form and perhaps the other potential banker.