Begg and Munro can continue winning run
VETERAN trainer Neville Begg has his stable in fine form at the moment and his winning link-up with visiting British jockey Alan Munro could continue at tomorrow night's pre-Christmas meeting at Happy Valley.
Munro partners speedster Schnitzer in the first leg of the Double Trio on the Valley grass. The gelding's recent form has been reliable and he makes appeal as a banker for the popular bet.
Begg took over the training of Schnitzer late last season and got a win out of him on the Valley dirt.
First-up this campaign he ran very creditably for third behind brilliant unbeaten youngster Debonair.
But his best form has been at the Valley and at his last start, over 1,235 metres, he finished second to a rejuvenated Clean Them Up, who won with the minimum of fuss and bother.
He also missed the start slightly on that occasion which did not help his cause. In the circumstances his second placing had merit.
Schnitzer has continued to work well and this 975-metre dash is certainly to his liking as he showed last season in a similar Class Three contest.
On that occasion he finished second to Glory Of India - not bad form - and he had speedster Garlic Lad and Third Time Lucky, also a chance in this race tomorrow night, behind him.
Schnitzer was only a head from Glory Of India in this race last February and it is fair to suggest that he is a better betting proposition these days than he was then. A strict reading of that form would give Third Time Lucky plenty to do to turn the tables.
He was beaten over three lengths and is now three pounds better off against the Begg galloper which might not be enough.
The likely favourite is topweight Parkview Fame to be ridden by John Marshall for retaining trainer John Moore.
But Parkview Fame is a bleeder and can do as much wrong as he can right. He hacked up two starts ago and then flopped completely last time in almost identical circumstances.
He is very fast and has drawn perfectly in barrier two but his patchy form is ominous and he is not a banker. However, Parkview Fame would have to be taken as a leg of the DT.
Profit Taker won easily over this trip landing a gamble at his first start and has done nothing in two subsequent outings - again making him a risky proposition.
Third Time Lucky has been going well at the track and wasn't that far away last time out over the longer sprint at Sha Tin. He is invariably better with a run or two under the belt and will strip fit and ready for this encounter.
The outside draw (9) is not going to help Speedy Good, to be ridden by Basil Marcus for Ivan Allan, but he remains some sort of a modest hope.
The second leg of the Double Trio is an intriguing 1,800-metre event for Class Three gallopers where there are probably four good chances.
The engagement of Mick Kinane for stayer Muster Mark nudges that one towards banker bet status as the Irish champion jockey rode him before export and knows him well.
Muster Mark looked a little unlucky last time when finding little room in a race won by Planet and at his second start of the season - course and distance - was just beaten by fast-finishing Grey Linnet.
Long March put in a top run at his last start in the same race and, given natural improvement, is going to be right beside Muster Mark wherever they finish.
He has been patiently prepared by Peter Tse Yan-sid and, with Marshall up, can go very close.
Bottomweight Sweet Win has winning form only at the Valley and he can show up because of his light weight. His winning efforts have been over 1,650 metres but he has always shaped as a horse who wanted further and has placed at this trip previously.
Miss Piggy, with trainer Wong Tang-ping's stable apprentice Vicki C. W. Choi up, won't have to find much on his last run - also in the race won by Planet - to be involved in the finish of this one.