Draw and weight to favour Happy Master
A more favourable barrier and a 10-pound pull in the weights may give impressive youngster Happy Master the edge in the battle of the three-year-olds at Sha Tin tonight in the Lok Sing Tong Cup (race seven).
Happy Master, a member of the in-form stable of Manfred Man Ka-leung, is poised to lock horns with Tchaikovsky, prepared by David Hayes.
That pair, along with the Tony Cruz-trained three-year-old Dreams Come True, seem to dominate the Class Three event over 1,200 metres.
Happy Master has raced twice and caught most by surprise on debut when arriving at Happy Valley on February 2 at odds of 96-1. The key that night was that although his barrier trials had been only fair, he had shown a quantum leap of improvement for Man on the gallops.
Significantly, the New Zealand-bred gelding won with something in reserve, and even some wayward running in the final 100m was not enough to prevent him posting a 23/4 lengths margin.
The handicapping department took the pencil to him and bumped him out of Class Four for his second start - a most unusual occurrence in this day and age.
But Happy Master almost came through again, this time finishing second to the useful Danehill gelding Gianfanti in Class Three company down the Sha Tin straight 1,000m.
Jockey Craig Williams should be able to position Happy Master nicely, forward of midfield, while Gerald Mosse on Tchaikovsky will be forced to burn a bit more gas in a bid to offset the eight barrier. There is even the possibility of Tchaikovsky being caught three deep in the run to the first corner. Although he won handsomely over this course and distance at his latest attempt on February 11, the handicappers slapped Tchaikovsky with a 10 pound penalty for his arrogance.
He has now won two races over the Sha Tin 1,200m circuit, but the lift in the handicaps may just bring him back to the field.
The all-conquering Cruz machine has Dreams Come True engaged. The Marju gelding is coming back in distance from 1,650m and seemed to find the 1,200m a bit too short earlier in his preparation.