Lucky Forever can live up to his name
A quality final leg is the highlight of the New Year's Day Triple Trio and gives the in-form Olivier Doleuze and trainer Sean Woods a great chance to start the year on a winning note with Lucky Forever.
A jackpot of HK$3.2 million will be carried forward to Saturday's meeting at Sha Tin, and it should be noted the exotic will be over races five to seven with the bumper 11-race card.
Lucky Forever made a huge impression on his debut when he swept from last to finish within a neck of Hot Shot over 1,800m 14 days ago.
There are not many horses going better than Hot Shot and the John Size-trained four-year-old can build on the stable's momentum with Douglas Whyte in the saddle.
He makes a great dual-banker play from barrier five and is as honest as they come, but Lucky Forever's claims cannot be ignored and, with the step up to 2,000m and the slight turnaround at the weights, the Woods galloper has an edge.
Packing Ok will also relish the step to the 2,000m Derby trip for John Moore and Darren Beadman, but will have to be at his best to lump 133 pounds and give this field a beating.
In a trio scenario, he and Fearless are hard to ignore at the top of the entries, but perhaps the lightly weighted improver Wo Ai Ninn is the blow-out chance from barrier one with 114 pounds and Jeff Lloyd on his back.
Michael Chang Chun-wai was rewarded for taking the High Chaparral gelding to Happy Valley for the first time last start, and he cannot be dismissed with that confidence booster under his belt and the step up in trip.
A tricky Class Five over 1,400m has been designated as the opening leg, and Whyte can again be prominent on the lightly weighted Bayview Greyslew, who has shown improvement in recent runs since joining David Ferraris at the end of last season.
The Canadian-bred six-year-old recorded his only Hong Kong win over this course two seasons back off a mark of 33, and he has become competitive again now he has slid to 24 with the handicappers. Kimberley is another who has exploded since changing stables to Derek Cruz, placing second to Namjong Fighters when resuming before racking up two wins over this trip at her next two starts - the latest on protest when she was ironed out by Mustang on the turn.
She has enjoyed a little freshen-up since then and Tye Angland may find barrier 14 an advantage with her if he can slot in with some cover rounding the bend as the six-year-old continues to display the sprint of a galloper better than her current rating suggests.
Daylight Express will take tossing from the good draw with no weight on his back, while Sammy's Fortune must be included dropping back to the 1,400m.
The middle leg appears a good opportunity for Angland and Cruz to get back in the winner's stall, care of Sure Forward, a horse who has been racing consistently without striking a major. Two minor placings behind Champagne Days and Real Supreme stand him in good stead for this event, and Angland will be jumping at the chance to start the New Year with a winner after a frustrating end to 2010.
Surrounded has showed glimmers of promise and should not be discounted from calculations purely for the bad draw of 14. Beadman may elect to slide closer to the leaders with the long run to the first turn and that few lengths less to make up could prove all the difference in the finish.
Suisse D'Or has drawn the inside and should get a lovely run, while Kingston Spartacus (gate nine) and King On Earth (gate 12) will need some early luck to ensure they do not get hung out to dry facing the breeze.
New Year's Day Triple Trio jackpot at Sha Tin is expected to reach: HK$6m