Bliss Star right on target to reward patient connections
Bliss Star has taken time to hit his straps since arriving from Australia but his patient owners should finally be rewarded when he takes his place in the middle pin on Sunday's Triple Trio at Sha Tin.
With the TT failing to be won last weekend, the main prize is expected to reach HK$9 million and the six-year-old looks a standout banker under the guidance of Brett Prebble, who celebrated his 200th Hong Kong winner at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Bliss Star displayed good promise as a juvenile but arrived highly rated after placing in the Group Two Breeders' Stakes at Morphettville.
He showed glimpses of ability but it wasn't until his last outing that he finally put the writing on the wall that his winning turn had finally arrived.
The Flying Spur gelding, having his first start in Class Four, was prominently ridden but was unable to cross Silly Boy to find the rail and ended up working for the entire event.
To his credit, the David Hall-trained chestnut pinched a break turning for home but his condition gave out in the final stages before he wound up a creditable fourth to the debutant winner Monte Cristo.
To add further merit to the performance, all the placegetters came from well off the speed, which is not surprising as the first 600 metres of the race was run in 34.8 seconds.
Bliss Star, who weighed in first-up at a strapping 1,236 pounds, will have derived great benefit from that outing and should get a much easier time of things on the speed on this occasion and prove the one to beat.
His main dangers will come from Lifeline Pegasus, Ichiban, Moshi Moshi and Monty, while the first starter Winning Ahead is worth keeping on the safe side.
In the opening leg, Ka Ka Smart fits the banker bill with a return to Class Five for the first time since his only success.
The grey had little luck when resuming after being caught off the track but indicated improvement when battling away dourly last start to be beaten over three lengths.
He will appreciate the drop in class, should bounce straight to the lead and will be take plenty of beating.
Others entitled to consideration are Mullaad, Celestial Wonder, As You Wish and Rising Win, while the surprise packet could be the lightly-weighted Straight Victory.
The final leg is wide open, and clearly looks tricky, but Thunder Dancing could prove to be a good value banker. The five-year-old turned in a terrific first-up performance after being caught very wide but he struggled at his next outing at Happy Valley when rising in distance and again posted wide.
He is ideally placed returning to Sha Tin, is aided by a claim for Alex Lai Hoi-wing and has shown good ability on more than one occasion.
Hardest to beat will be Booming City, Luminous, Super Baby, Forever Fight, All Time High and Happy Master, while Local Power can figure if he gets any luck from a wide barrier.