Bumper performance in prospect for Size and Dye
The hugely successful John Size-Shane Dye partnership should have the last laugh at Sha Tin this afternoon with Bumper Bumper, a progressive Australian-bred gelding who looks a solid chance to land his third win from five starts.
Bumper Bumper's form in his rookie season has been impeccable, demonstrating his ability to win on both tracks, as well as on firm and rain-affected ground. The son of underrated sire Success Express has all the qualities of a genuine top-grader and, given the relative ease of his latest win at Happy Valley he looks well treated having received only eight points for that effort.
There's no doubt this is his toughest test to date and one of the main threats has to be San Lorenzo, who is searching for his fourth consecutive victory. All of those wins have come over 1,200 metres, but if anything he should appreciate the step up to 1,400 metres.
The main concern is that jockey Douglas Whyte will need an ounce of luck from the outside gate, and the likelihood of San Lorenzo covering a fair amount of extra ground is theoretically high.
But we often think that when Whyte draws wide, only to see him conjure something special and magically negotiate a much easier course. The significant thing is that San Lorenzo remains on the upgrade and must be kept safe in all multiples.
Another with strong claims is Bold Winner, who won over the course and distance earlier this season when beating some quality opposition - including Flying Machine (second), Palette Natural (third) and Shane (fourth) - all of whom have been holding their form well recently. The main concern is that Bold Winner was given some time off after his last run on February 7 and, while his recent work has been sound, the break in his training pattern leaves his preparation looking short of ideal.
Tony Cruz-trained Lucky Stallion finished ahead of Bold Winner in the race won by Delightful Win on February 7, which was also on yielding ground. Lucky Stallion has been holding his form well this year but has to overcome a wide alley this time round. He strikes similar opposition here but, following a poor barrier draw, he appeals more as a place chance.
It is difficult to fault the form of Noble Man, who ran well in defeat when second to Happy Partners over 1,400 metres here in mid-February. The rise in grade this time leaves him nicely weighted with 113 pounds and he should get every chance to figure in the finish from gate five.
My Fortune finished second to last behind Happy Partners and, based on that run, is difficult to recommend today. That was just his second run this term and while he is open to improvement, he will be tested on recent form.
Peter Ng Bik-kuen has topweight Dashing Winner, who put the writing on the wall on his most recent run when fourth to Wyndam Easy on February 22. The track bias was favouring those on the pace that day and, all things considered, his run was better than the bare facts suggest. The return to the turf will enhance the chances of Kimberley Mines, who was never a threat when sixth to Multidandy on the all-weather surface (1,200 metres) in early February. Prior to that, he had been in sterling form, having failed by a nose to notch back-to-back wins. However, there is no question he prefers 1,200 metres, and he appeals more as a minor place chance.
It is hard to envisage African Forest proving a threat based on what has been seen on his three local outings. It may be that he is simply rated too highly at this stage. In any case he can be ruled out.
Similarly, Master Gigolo showed little potential on his only local start when ninth to Triumphant Master back in early October. His dirt trial on February 17 was quite good, but not enough to suggest he is ready to trouble the main chances in this event.
One that can be safely ruled out is Happy Momentum, who has not shown enough positive form to recommend.
Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Gianfanti is an Irish import who arrived with winning form over middle distances. His dirt trial on February 17 was solid but there should be considerable improvement to come from this run. The decision by Whyte, who rode him in the trial, to go with San Lorenzo today may be sufficient guide to his chances.
Also stepping out for the first time in Hong Kong is Australian import Cheerful Boy, who managed to finish third in the Gosford Classic (Listed) over a mile last June. His work and trials have shown promise, but this is his first start in eight months and there is bound to be plenty of improvement to come.