Ho's city-track Wonder
Trainer Peter Ho Leung and jockey Glyn Schofield have an excellent chance to land the Craigengower Cricket Club Challenge Cup with Happy Valley specialist Engineering Wonder. This handy son of veteran shuttle stallion Last Tycoon returns to his favoured 1,200 metres trip at the city course after a two-month absence, but has worked in a manner suggesting he is primed to take all the beating.
After his last run over tonight's course and distance, he was noted (the following morning) to be 'lame in the right front leg', according to the club's veterinary surgeon, but the enforced time off has had a positive effect. The three-time winner over the course and distance moved particularly well in a dirt trial on February 13 and having shown the capability to win first up earlier this season, he looks a great chance to notch his third win of the season.
One of the main threats comes from last-start winner Eastkowloon Spirit, who shrugged off his maiden status with a comfortable victory at the end of January over this course and distance. On that night, he was given a dream ride from in-form French ace Gerald Mosse and from gate two this evening, there is plenty in his favour. Debutant Sugar And Sweet comes from Australia, where he won four of seven and finished second twice. Admittedly, the majority of those victories were not in metropolitan races, but his work and trials since arriving have been impressive enough to suggest he is one to keep on the safe side.
Ricky Yiu Poon-fie's Grandway Shuttle has been holding his form exceptionally well this season and must be rated a good chance to figure in the finish, especially if based on his January 14 performance when second to Our Jet at this course. The slight concern is that he will require luck in running from gate 10, but this looks an easier test and he can hit the frame.
It remains a mystery what happened to Beauty Plus on the home turn on his last run over this trip at the end of January, when he lost his footing and was lucky not to fall. With Douglas Whyte on board and a low barrier, he must be respected.
The barrier draw has not been so kind to Sight Champion or Supreme Star, who both would have been considered top-line chances if they had drawn better. The former caught the eye in a dirt trial on February 3 and the gear change (first-time blinkers) is a positive move. However, it is almost a forgone conclusion that he will be trapped wide from gate 11 and he will be doing very well to fill a minor placing.
Supreme Star has competed over the course and distance on all four starts this season, managing a win and a second. He may struggle with the step up in grade combined with the outside gate and he, too, will do well to figure.
Tony Cruz has opted to apply the blinkers to Lightning Bolt, who rates a chance to figure in the finish on his better form this season. He proved disappointing on his latest outing when 10th to Our Jet but, prior to that, had been showing enough to warrant respect this evening. Athletic Gold is searching for his third consecutive win and from gate one should have every chance. He strikes stronger opposition this time, however, and with the move to Happy Valley he may struggle to complete the hat-trick.
Able Eagle is yet to hit the frame from seven starts in Class Three and has struggled to compete since stepping up in grade in October. He may need to drop back to Class Four before being a winning proposition.
Though lacking experience at the Valley, neither Cendamy nor Romantic Symphony has managed to hit the frame there. One reason is that both like to settle in a rearward position, which is not the ideal strategy around the tight city circuit. It is difficult to envisage either runner reversing the form this evening.