Missile targeted for a cruise home
CRUISE Missile can put Dean McKeown back in the winners' circle by taking this afternoon's fifth event on the Happy Valley grass.
The chestnut is now in peak condition, following two runs back, and looks the type to make a fair amount of progress this season.
He always worked really well last campaign, but managed just the one win.
This time round, he looks much stronger and should be able to make the transition from Class Four to Class Three.
That transition can start this afternoon over the Valley's 1,235 metres, the course and distance over which he ran so well last time out.
He was a fast-finishing third to The First Million and would almost certainly have run the quinella - if not won - without being forced to check off Kevpal as the field swung into the top bend.
That cost Cruise Missile a vital length or two before he rallied to come storming to the line over the last 300 metres.
He has worked along smoothly at the track since without being asked too serious a question.
Trainer Geoff Lane and McKeown have seemed intent on keeping him fresh for this sprint as he may well be seen to full potential over a mile later in the season.
Indeed, that may be one of the major problems. Cruise Missile may get a little outpaced early on.
Stephen Leung's Cheerful Prince was a last-start course-and-distance winner. He has a fair bit more to do at these weights, but he has been holding his form well in the mornings, putting in an excellent piece for this afternoon's jockey, Tony Cruz, when working for the final time on Thursday.
He must be rated a serious danger as he has won in Class Three in the past.
From the bottom of the weights, it may pay dividends to include Bruce Hutchison's Golden Gamble, who has done plenty of work.
Hutchison has put in overtime on this problem horse, who had a severe aversion to the starting stalls before joining the silver-haired mentor.
That seems to have been overcome and Golden Gamble has improved with each gallop and each trial.
In the preceding event, Hutchison has a top chance of lifting some silverware when his Spirits Bay contests the Po Leung Kuk Centenary Cup.
Spirits Bay will relish the 2,400-metre trip and is now fully fit. The booking of crack lightweight Alan Munro catches the eye.
Munro can also be on the mark in the day's second event when he partners Money Fountain for the Lawrie Fownes' stable.
Money Fountain has only run four times in his life and is open to considerable improvement.
Some of that improvement may well come now that Fownes has decided to blinker the strapping son of Omnicorp for the first time. Money Fountain certainly appeared to work well in the blinkers last Saturday when trouncing stablemate Sea Ruby in an exceptional piece of work.
Money Fountain has run two highly creditable races so far this season when second to Star Of Marble and then fourth to Easy Beat.
The dangers could well be John Moore's High Reward and David Oughton's Invincible.
High Reward is a very similar type to Money Fountain in that he is a young staying-bred gelding open to considerable progress. Like Money Fountain, he is also blinkered for the first time, having run with much promise on his last start.
High Reward has also come out of that close third to Beautiful Star working better than ever. For instance, he appeared to go every bit as well, if not better last Saturday than Money Fountain's conqueror, Easy Beat.
He is definitely worth putting in the quinellas and so, too, is Invincible.
David Oughton's five-year-old needed his reappearance behind Easy Beat and Money Fountain, but is now much fitter.
He worked with great fluency from the barriers on Thursday morning for Walter Swinburn and is another well worth including in the quinellas.