Good Strike can put rivals to sword
The Almond Lee-trained Good Strike gets a golden opportunity to break back into the winner's circle in the final leg of the Triple Trio at Happy Valley tomorrow night.
With the TT expected to reach HK$12 million, Lee had taken advantage of the extended rating of the 85-60 Class Three to drop Good Strike back a grade for the first time this season and the race looks tailor-made for the backmarker in more than just that regard.
An expected strong early tempo provided by front-runners Golden Bauhinia and Wei Hei Invincible will give Good Strike every chance to settle back in the field and finish over the top of his rivals with the rail in the 'A' course position.
Good Strike boasts a superior turn of foot and if Alex Lai Hoi-wing can weave a clear passage in the straight, the son of Magic Albert should be able to put his rivals to the sword for the first time since he won over this course in November 2009.
For TT players he makes strong appeal, and two thirds and a luckless fourth from four runs this season indicate he should be hitting the frame again.
The John Size-trained Lucky Bravo will attract much of the betting support with Douglas Whyte in the saddle and will be hard to beat from barrier six, but a drop back to 1,200m and a shaky debut run at the Valley throw up two concerns for those wanting to butter up for the short quote.
Lucky Bravo was heavily backed in the minutes leading up to his debut, but a wobble on the home turn denied him the chance to power over the top of the leaders that night.
In a TT scenario, he looks impossible to ignore and, with the champion jockey in the irons, the Faltaat gelding is sure to be among the action at the business end of the race.
Derek Cruz switches Flying Colours to the city course for the first time and Tye Angland will have the job of navigating him to a forward position from barrier 11, but despite that negative, the in-form galloper makes appeal as a horse capable of delivering first time out at the Valley. His forward running style at Sha Tin stands him in good stead as a potential Valley performer.
If Angland can tag Golden Bauhinia across the face of the field, he may well end up in prime position to pounce at the turn.
Familists makes his Hong Kong debut after one trial for David Hall, and the horse formerly known as Hus Der Lieften in Australia has demonstrated the quality to be competitive off his rating of 82.
Zac Purton takes the ride on Familists from barrier one, and also has a great chance to open the first leg of the TT with a win on Racing Legend for trainer Paul O'Sullivan.
Racing Legend was badly chopped out when attempting to find room in the straight at his latest run and should have finished closer in the race won by Caga Boy on December 15. With 118 pounds from barrier seven, Racing Legend makes appeal as a solid banker as Purton should be able to swoop over a genuine tempo set by last-start winner Hexagon and Dream Horse.
Rare Treasure, Confucius Classic and Superior Warrior can be handily placed in the run and should also figure prominently, while Asian Citrus (gate 10) and Empire City (9) will have their work cut out to overcome awkward draws.
In the middle pin, the David Ferraris-trained Supreme De Union has bold claims with 117 pounds and Whyte taking over for the suspended Weichong Marwing.
Supreme De Union raced fiercely for Greg Cheyne first up this season wearing blinkers for the first time, but finished a creditable neck second to Jun Dao.
Since then, the horse has bounced to the lead and faded at his subsequent two runs but, with Whyte in the irons from barrier seven, expect the Sequalo gelding to park in behind the early leaders in a race that promises to be run at a fast tempo.
Free And Easy, Amedeo, Perfect Fit and Jun Dao are all capable of pressing for the early lead and should give run-on horses like Diamond Knight and Showtime their chance to get into the race late.
Gunning for more
Almond Lee has sent out 46 runners at the Valley for a winning strike rate of: 9%