Hot tempo should be perfect for Jun Dao to see off rivals
The David Hall-trained Jun Dao can take advantage of the speed-laden Craigengower Cricket Club Challenge Cup (1,000m) to salute at Happy Valley tomorrow night, and Triple Trio punters can climb on the bandwagon by making him a banker in the final leg of the exotic, which carries a HK$4.7 million jackpot.
Jun Dao meets a field loaded with early speed horses who are sure to produce a hot tempo, and Howard Cheng Yue-tin will no doubt be under instructions to park off the speed early from gate seven.
Amedeo will be out to replicate his all-the-way last-start win, but will need to be sharp to cross the likes of Golden Bauhinia, Secret Of Winning, Hawthorne and Charity Spirit, who are drawn to his inside and are bold front-runners themselves. Solar Up and Windicator Returns will add to the early pressure from their wide draws, and the resulting speed battle will set the stage for run-on sprinters like Jun Dao, Ocean Wide and last-start winner Ever Beauty to stake their claims at the business end of the race.
Cheng supporters cannot throw stones at the moment - he has not ridden a winner at the past seven meetings - but the unusual jockey bookings of Way Leung Ming-wai on Ever Beauty and apprentice Keith Yeung Ming Lun on Ocean Wide take some of the gloss off those runners as betting propositions.
Leung is yet to ride a winner this season and Yeung has ridden four winners at Happy Valley this term, none from outside gate seven.
Perhaps Jun Dao's biggest off-pace danger may come from Rocket Proud, who has drawn gate one and was well supported wearing blinkers for the first time in the race won by Sovereign Falcon at Sha Tin.
Rocket Proud and Gerald Mosse were caught wide throughout in that run and never rated a danger to the winner but, from the inside draw with Maxime Guyon on board, he cannot be ruled out as one of the main chances.
The wild-card runner could be second-starter Charity Spirit, who with Douglas Whyte in the irons, may be held just in behind the early speed and not go all-out for the lead.
Whyte's mount in the opening leg, the Sean Woods-trained Rainbow Seeker, is likely to be well supported from barrier two, but perhaps a switch back to Happy Valley for Flying China may produce an upset.
Trainer Alex Wong Yu-on has sent Flying China out on the all-weather track at 13 of the six-year-old's past 14 runs. The gelding hasn't been to the Valley since march last year and an improved showing should not be dismissed.
Flying China can be expected to get back and run on from barrier 11 with apprentice Ben So Tik-hung on board, and he may enjoy being able to track into the race on the back of a more comfortable early speed than that which he has regularly met in his dirt races.
If So can time his move from the rear, and not cover too much ground in rounding the home bend, Flying China may be able drop on the leaders and snatch a surprise top-three result on the turf.
Caspar Fownes' last-start winner Go Legend Go should be competitive again with 119 pounds and Olivier Doleuze on his back after a gutsy nose win over Multiproud at this distance under his belt.
Supreme Fay Fay, Island Super and Our Pegasus are also likely candidates, but will have to earn their prize money with big weights and outer draws.
The middle leg is to be conducted over the 1,800m course and looks a good opportunity for Redoute's Fortune to build on two recent placings with a victory for trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak and premiership leader Whyte.
Redoute's Fortune placed a grinding third to Good Looking Watch and Zephyrus at his latest run over 1,650m under Zac Purton, and the step up to the longer distance at which he placed second to Ho Wongchoy three runs back looks a plus.