Courage Star key to unlocking TT riches
The final meeting of the season could hardly have been scripted better with the betting gods smiling on the Triple Trio and a fabulous $30.4 million jackpot carried forward to Sunday's Sha Tin bumper fixture.
Due to the simulcast of Oriental Express and Holy Grail's attempt on Japan's prestigious Yasuda Kinen, the TT races have been changed.
Sunday's TT requires the first three to be selected in any order in races four, six and eight and not the usual races three, four and six.
Peter Ho's improving griffin graduate Courage Star could be the best banker in the three TT events.
He runs in the sixth and comes into the Class Three 1,400-metre handicap having put in a career-best effort last time when he was a close and useful third to Happy Champ and Charming City last time over Sunday's course and distance.
The first three pulled clear of Little Plaything that day and he, in turn, was clear of Arrectis Auribus.
These two reoppose on Sunday and it is hard to see them reversing the form.
If anything, Courage Star, who is almost certainly on the upgrade, could beat them by farther.
And when three horses dominate in the way that Happy Champ, Charming City and Courage Star did, it is usually a sign of good form.
Sterling Star is not the most resolute when it comes to a battle but the way he's been racing, he is another of the leading place contenders.
Little Plaything, too, has a good chance of running into the tierce. He goes very well at the trip.
In truth, there are a heap of place chances behind Courage Star and this TT is going to be hard for anyone to crack.
Golden Decade should go better with the magnificent seven-time champion Basil Marcus back on board.
You can do nothing but marvel at Marcus' success in the saddle since he came here for the 1990-91 season. Seven championships out of nine makes him a legend of the Hong Kong turf.
Bravissimo didn't have too much luck at the Valley last time and he can't be ruled out while Professionalkiller comes into the race off a strong trial as does Double Expresso and Strongheart is improving.
Another progressive type, Geoff Lane's Lucky Victories, looks as good a banker as any in the fourth.
He improved to run second to Sai Kung Star on a wet track last time and his previously promising efforts and work suggest he won't mind the ground if it rides fast.
Simon's Decision did well last time as the inside track bias at the Valley gave him very little chance.
All the same he was noted making strong late headway and he could well be running home into the placings.
Super Connections showed last weekend how dangerous he can be when he gets to the front. This time, he's going to face a strong challenge for the pace from Born Dragon and Speedy Dragon.
Sir Timah has scope while Truly Delighted has been much improved in his work over the past few weeks and that showed in his recent run.
The eighth event, which concludes the TT, doesn't look any easier than the others.
Down the card the main chances could prove to be Somluck, Oriental Treasure, New Asians, Regular Win, No Collateral and Toy Symphony.
Somluck should appreciate the company and those taking a voluntary demotion with a 10-pound claimer booked, as is the case with Somluck, are often worth following.
Oriental Treasure is much improved. The 1,400 metres is on the short side but he looks to have a touch of quality about him.
New Asians is another promising type while Regular Win should be suited by a return to Sha Tin. The track bias beat him last time.
No Collateral has solid griffin form and could place while Toy Symphony had excuses last time and has dropped to a potentially competitive rating.