Inside alley gives Famagusta the edge despite weight rise
Famagusta gives the impression he is a horse on the march to better races and, with the advantage of gate one, should make light work of a rise in weight in the final leg of Sunday's Triple Trio at Sha Tin.
The Caspar Fownes-trained gelding looked the part when finishing strongly to win at his debut at Happy Valley on November 28, but he wasn't as sharp when fronting up only two weeks later in running fifth to My Home Town.
With a 42-day break, Famagusta had little trouble returning to his best at the city circuit, before showing he had a touch of class when switching to Sha Tin and rising to 1,400 metres for the first time 20 days ago.
Under Brett Prebble, the four-year-old pressed forward from gate eight to camp on the outside of the leader and travelled well in the run.
He cruised to a challenging position in the straight and lengthened well to quickly have the race in his keeping, earning strong reviews from both trainer and jockey.
Famagusta takes an eight-pound rise in weight on the back of the success, but he should end up with the run of the race from the prize inside alley and have little trouble adding to his impressive record.
The main danger, and an appealing double banker, is the promising Monte Cristo.
The Andreas Schutz-trained gelding created a huge impression at his first two attempts, before running well behind Bold Win when taking a rise in class and being unsuited by a moderate tempo.
At his only other outing, he returned with excuses after striking trouble in the straight before winding up seventh to all-the-way winner Treasure Colt.
Although the four-year-old will find this a tougher assignment, he will sport blinkers for the first time, is drawn to enjoy favours and will carry a light weight under Douglas Whyte.
Others capable of figuring in the finish are Magic Sweep and Favourite Supreme, while the potential improver is the Tony Cruz-trained Stareilly with a rise up to 1,400m.
In the opening leg, it's hard to go past the in-form Island Sunrise when searching for a banker, despite the five-year-old drawing poorly in gate 12.
He has been a revelation since joining Cruz stable, winning his only three appearances over this course and distance.
From the wide alley, apprentice Marco Chui Kwan-lai is sure to press forward in the early stages and, in a race void of a genuine speed, he will be the one to gun down in the final stages.
Dangers will come from Beautiful Choice, Gallant Win, One Touch, Moonglow and Shatin Win Win.
In the middle pin, King Prawn Supreme fits the banker bill with a return to 1,200m.
The John Size-trained gelding was most impressive in opening his winning account two starts back, before struggling last start when stepping up to 1,400m and being forced to cover ground.
He should end up with the run of the race this time and prove the toughest to beat, with his main opposition likely to come from Eight Plus Nine, Spring Sun, Plan B and Rocket Power.