Liberator to prove too strong again
The David Ferraris-trained Liberator is set to free up an estimated HK$2 million Triple Trio dividend on Sunday at Sha Tin and makes an ideal banker play in the middle leg.
After a devastating 5 1/4-length win over the Sha Tin 1,800m and the in-form Redoute Star - who chalked up his third win for the season at Happy Valley on Wednesday - Liberator will take a power of beating dropping back to the mile.
Tye Angland, in red-hot form himself, rated the Encosta De Lago gelding to perfection on the good-to-yielding surface, camping near the speed before driving him clear in the straight and to one of the biggest winning margins of the season.
That Liberator established such a margin over a subsequent winner is all the more impressive and, with Ferraris electing to pinch a few pounds off the handicapper with 10-pound claimer Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, there is no reason the HK$5 million International Sale Graduate won't reproduce that form.
From barrier two, Ho should be able to copy Angland's ride and have the gelding positioned on the speed, with the tactics likely to make use of the youngster's weight claim by setting an honest tempo early.
Topweight Splendid Champion is also dropping back to the mile for trainer Tony Cruz after finishing fifth over 1,800m behind Ho Wongchoy last start at Happy Valley and, with Felix Coetzee in the saddle from barrier four, the gelding should not be dismissed lightly.
Douglas Whyte has elected to hop aboard Beautiful Choice, for trainer Sean Woods, after an improved effort for fifth last start over this course behind Real Supreme.
Two lightly raced entries are also worth including, and improvement from either Surrounded or Super Strike with the step up in distance would not surprise.
Down in the weights, My Way and Cool Cat also make appeal as place chances, but both would need things to fall their way in the run to seriously challenge Liberator at his best.
The final leg looks another good opportunity for a banker play with a few possible contenders - most notably the John Moore-trained Packing OK and the John Size-trained pair Hot Shot and Vitality Express - who are consistent performers and capable of figuring prominently.
Packing Ok is yet to finish outside the top three in his three starts and makes strong appeal again, despite his 133 pounds and wide draw in gate 11. Vitality Express and Hot Shot are both fit and will be hitting the line full of running for Coetzee and Whyte respectively, and a Size quinella would not surprise.
Fearless, Jolly Good and Ambitious Owner will all get cosy runs from inside draws and should be considered as top-three chances with Sean Woods' 'green team' - Green Pearl and Green Cash.
The opening leg looks tricky with no real standouts to make bankers and plenty of borderline chances who could upset the applecart.
Perhaps the TT players' pal, Sohna, can step back into the spotlight from gate three, with Gerald Mosse in the irons and, with 26 placings from his 59 starts, nobody can knock his ability to claim a cheque.
Mariachi will draw admirers after his resuming neck second to Good Boy Boy, but Olivier Doleuze will have his work cut out to replicate his great ride last start from gate 12.
Win A Dozen, Top Dragon, Star Legend, Red Ruler and Travel King - now with Derek Cruz - all have exposed form and are capable of hitting the frame in a race like this, but narrowing down the chances will prove the difficult task for most players.
The David Ferraris-trained Liberator gave a galloping lesson to his rivals, winning by (lengths): 5 3/4