In-form Prebble holds the aces in bumper TT
Top Australian jockey Brett Prebble is hitting this Sunday's major Cathay Pacific International Cup Trial meeting in top form with a midweek four-timer and can go a long way to helping one lucky punter claim top prize in the Triple Trio with Fat Choy Ichiban in the final leg.
As the TT was not won last Saturday, the main prize is estimated to reach HK$11 million, and Prebble looks a logical banker choice on Dennis Yip Chor-hung's ever-improving Fat Choy Ichiban.
The four-year-old had a slow start last season before things turned around at his fourth outing on March 22 when taking a voluntary step back into Class Four and a step up to a mile for a first time. He stormed home late to score by 3/4 lengths under 133 pounds and the bay gelding was on his way.
At his final four starts, the son of Intikhab picked up another two wins in sterling come-from-behind fashion over 1,600m and 2,000m, and also added a second and third respectively behind the stalwarts Young Elite, Home Treasure and King Dancer.
Prebble was on Fat Choy Ichiban for that 2,000m success at his final start. He resumed on opening day over 1,400m and was unlucky to finish fourth behind Terrific Brethren. He was held up for a good 100m at mid-stretch, but dashed nicely when in the clear and indicated he is set for another good campaign.
Fat Choy Ichiban had another pipe opener recently in a dirt trial and will be hard to beat from gate three over an ideal 1,600m.
Grand Dragon takes a step up in class, but has rattled home to figure in the placings in each of his three runs and can act as a double banker off his light weight.
Of the others, Irish Jig, Big Profit, Grand Dancer and Rocket Power are worthy opponents.
Prebble is not without a chance on the David Hall-trained Encosta Don in the middle pin as well.
Borderline on a 40-rating, Encosta Don wasn't going to pass up an opportunity in Class Five, stretching out nicely over the final 100m under the urging of Prebble, despite laying in, to score nicely over 1,200m under 133 pounds.
He returns to Class Four over 1,400m, but should still be in the finish with 14 pounds less to carry from gate one.
Matsukaze - a front-running fourth behind Encosta Don, before winning and placing at his next two runs over 1,400m - and old-timer High Intelligent - a trip winner and four times placed at his past five starts - are the main dangers.
If there are slip-ups, Nice King, newcomer Royal Warrior, Redoute Star and Precision Magic are capable of picking up the pieces.
However, the TT is likely to be won or lost in a tricky opening leg, though Zephyrus is a possible banker player.
He has improved in each of his four runs, scrapping home to finish third behind My Goal last Saturday over 1,600m and will definitely relish the extra 200m.
Other worthy inclusions are Dash Ahead, Upside Of Anger, Classic Energy, Baturo, Forest Fountain and Fortune Dragon.