Grand Commands safest bet in bumper TT pool
Grand Commands showed he was back in business with an improved performance last start and, with a rise in distance, he should be able to return to his best in the final leg of tomorrow night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
With the TT only being partially won last Wednesday, the main prize is expected to top HK$16 million, and Grand Commands looks a safe banker option, despite his career being restricted through injury.
He was well beaten at his first two starts for his new trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung, but hinted he was on the improve when a close-up ninth to Hongkong Superstar on November 19 after covering ground and being held up in the straight.
He progressed even further at his next appearance two weeks later to finish a length fourth to Towkay Flyer after gaining a nice spot on the back of the speed, but there is little doubt he is much better suited returning to 1,200m.
The seven-year-old should take a prominent position in the run and prove hard to hold out in the final stages.
His main rivals looks to be Confucius Classic, Charmgold, Wine Win and Buccaneer, while the likes of Circuit Hero, Country Magic and Mamma Mia need luck from wide gates.
In the opening leg, Speed Fighter could prove to be a value banker under a light weight from a good draw. The Ricky Yiu Poon-fie-trained gelding had a slow start to the season, but has been showing signs his winning turn is again near.
He battled on reasonably well in a leader-dominated race behind K-Jack two starts back, before running with merit behind Alice Too, despite finding the 1,650m beyond his stamina range.
The seven-year-old will appreciate a return to 1,200m, should get a nice run on the back of the speed from gate two and, with only 116 pounds to carry, take a lot of holding out.
An attractive double banker is Megabucks, who will sport blinkers for the first time. The Andy Leung Ting-wah-trained gelding turned in a good effort behind Shy Baldy after working early from a wide barrier, before sticking on at the one pace in a tougher race behind Grand Dragon last start.
He should bounce straight to the lead from gate nine and will be the one Speed Fighter has to gun down.
Other worthy inclusions are Marvellous, Engineering Wonder, Asali Victory and Forest Star.
In the middle leg, Big Kahuna is worth giving another chance, given he should appreciate a likely solid tempo.
He put the writing on the wall with a solid second to Classic Reunion two starts back, before running with merit in a leader-dominated race last time.
With the event likely to be run at a strong tempo through the likes of Juggernaut, Shining Dragon and Johnson, Douglas Whyte should be able to bide his time on the Paul O'Sullivan-trained gelding and present the five-year-old at the right time.
Others entitled to respect are Johnson, Brilliant Flash, Triumph and Chater De Lago, while Kaiser's Choix is capable of getting into the act if he has any early luck from a wide barrier.