Ho banks on Doyle to lift Lombardi
Peter Ho Leung has turned to the experienced hands of senior rider Brett Doyle to lift Lombardi to an overdue win and the five-year-old looks a solid banker on which to anchor Triple Trio plays in the final leg tomorrow at Sha Tin.
Lombardi's last run could not have turned out worse for apprentice Ben So Tik-hung, who made a costly error of judgment in the straight which cost Lombardi far more than the nose margin he was beaten by Superior Unit. Brett Prebble made him pay dearly for trying to sneak an inside run rounding the turn by hemming him into a pocket before kicking clear in what proved the winning move for Superior Unit.
Doyle will be under strict instructions to make no such mistake and he will no doubt give Lombardi his chance on entering the lane.
The Flying Spur gelding has been impressive in his barrier trials and trackwork this season, and another performance equal to his first-up run should see him go close to winning this event - an extended Class Four race for 65-40 rated horses.
Ironically, seven-pound claimer So will now take the ride on one of Lombardi's main dangers, Be My Song. Trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai's bold front-running type will strip fitter for his first-up effort when he went too fiercely over 1,200m at Happy Valley and weakened to finish eighth.
If So can allow him to travel at a more comfortable tempo, he should be able to control this race from the front and give a strong kick turning for home.
Admiration is a well bred son of Encosta De Lago and could prove a horse to follow this season. He has been tuned up with a number of strong gallops by John Moore, who we sense is about to start flexing his muscles.
Although we haven't seen this fellow at the trials, Admiration must come under strong consideration, with his pedigree and griffin season suggesting he will reach much loftier heights.
Achilles Of Troy, who comes off a strong first-up win at Happy Valley despite travelling wide on the speed throughout, is another worthy of inclusion and hails from the red-hot Caspar Fownes yard.
The middle pin looks a solid chance for the lightly weighted Grandway Flyer to re-enter the winner's circle. Andy Leung Ting-wah has had this fellow for two starts now after Alex Wong Yu-on trained the gelding in his first season - the highlight of which was a win over the 1,600m at Sha Tin on June 12.
Attractively rated at 41, Grandway Flyer has been given a very quiet introduction to the new season, despite already having run twice over this course in the opening weeks.
First up, the four-year-old travelled wide without cover on the speed before tiring to finish 10th at 100-1. Second up, he was snagged back early and asked for little in the straight when he chased home the leading pack down the centre of the track.
Perhaps the stable will wait for him to step out over 1,600m, but an improved showing would not surprise and he might add some value for those brave enough to throw him in on suspicion.
Sugar On Top should appreciate the step up to 1,400m second up and can further sweeten some tickets with Jeff Lloyd in the saddle. Despite drawing awkwardly in gate 12, Lloyd will ensure he gets a position with cover early and if he can finish with the same gusto as he did over the 1200m in his seasonal debut, he should be right in the mix at the finish.
Sohna, a win bettor's nightmare but a TT player's delight, ran on well from the rear first up and should be doing the same again. This fellow has won only twice from 56 starts, but has placed 24 times and should be excluded from Triple Trio combinations at your peril.
Keep an eye on Brett Prebble's mount Nice King and Douglas Whyte's charge Sure Forward at the bottom of the weights. Both have drawn well, have attracted the top riders and could be big improvers.
The opening leg is a tricky Class Five affair over 1,800m, but Dash, Clovis, Redoute Star and Forest Fountain all make appeal as potential plays.
David Ferraris has removed the side winkers from Forest Fountain and added the blinkers for this run, and Weichong Marwing should give him every chance from a cosy barrier four.
Clovis and Dash are fitter for solid performances over shorter distances and look well tuned for this event, while Redoute Star goes around for the formidable Whyte-Tony Cruz combination and has drawn ideally in gate two.