Fully recovered South China Elite ready for business
South China Elite makes his long-awaited return to the races in the middle pin of tomorrow night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley and all the signs suggest it will be a winning one.
The David Hall-trained gelding made his debut on Boxing Day at Sha Tin last year and looked a star on the rise in scoring an effortless victory.
He camped close to the speedy Top Stitch before travelling to the lead 300 metres out and, once given an inch of rein by Brett Prebble, simply blew his rivals away in winning by 31/2 lengths.
Following that success, a bone chip was discovered in his right knee, which was removed in February, with Hall wisely giving the four-year-old plenty of time to get over the operation.
South China Elite has had a steady build up to his return and his trainer would have been delighted with what he saw when fronting up at the barrier trials at Happy Valley on October 6.
Under Prebble, South China Elite pounced straight to the lead, travelled easily before going on to score by two lengths from Value Choice without ever being let off the bridle.
Although rising to Class Three for the first time, South China Elite should be gifted the run of the race from gate three and give Prebble a welcome victory after being on the sidelines for the last four meetings through suspension.
His biggest stumbling block will be the Tony Cruz-trained Cosmo Successor, who lost no marks when having his winning streak stopped by the speedy Galbraith last start.
He won his previous two outings in good style and he is well placed with the claim for Marco Chui Kwan-lai.
Other worthy inclusions are Good To Go, from gate one, and the promising Lifeline Pals, who has been trialling well for his return.
In the opening leg, Supreme Gold makes plenty of banker appeal going to 1,650m for the first time in his career.
He didn't do a great deal in his two starts as a griffin last season but his first-up performance four weeks ago behind China Hero showed he had returned a much better horse.
He will be greatly improved from that outing, will take a forward position under Douglas Whyte, also returning from suspension, and he could be too progressive for his older rivals.
Perseverance, another good ride for Prebble, is unbeaten in his two starts for the Cruz stable and will be the toughest to beat despite a wide barrier, while others entitled to consideration are the Caspar Fownes-trained Romantic Green suited down in class, Master Dreamer, Gallant Falcon and the lightly-weighted Triumph, who showed he was coming back to form last start.
The final leg is tricky but Happy Crusader has banker appeal from an inside alley.
His trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak explained following his terrific first-up victory four weeks ago that the six-year-old had lost his confidence following an injury a year ago but was delighted the success confirmed he was back in business.
Although he will find this tough, he looks destined to get an easy time of things from gate two and will relish the light weight and the expertise of Felix Coetzee.
His biggest threats will come from Victory Treasure, Classa Supreme, Elfhelm and King Hogan, while it's hard to leave out All Our Way and Don Ricardo.