Fatboy Sugar can prove his worth against lesser rivals
Fatboy Sugar can help sweeten Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's successful season with a victory in the Taipa Handicap (1,000m) at Sha Tin tomorrow, and punters can forget the calories and gorge themselves on an estimated HK$9 million dividend by making the horse a banker in the final leg of the Triple Trio.
Yiu has once again turned to Jacky Tong Chi-kit to get the job done from barrier seven and, after the rider's allowance, the four-year-old is well placed in the weights with 123 pounds to carry up the straight 1,000m course.
The straight course has been heavily biased towards the outside rail and Tong will no doubt be doing his utmost to get Fatboy Sugar as close to the outside fence as possible in the early stages of the run.
If Tong can navigate a clear path between the early speed horses and maintain a position near the outside, then Fatboy Sugar need only re-produce his last-start second to the unbeaten California Choice to win this event against lesser opposition.
The biggest dangers seemingly come from those already drawn to grab the prime spot, and the resuming First In Command will have first bid at the fast lane from gate 14.
The John Moore-trained four-year-old has won twice up the straight and won first run back this term, so there are a few pointers to him being hard to beat once again, despite his heavy 133-pound impost at the top of the weights.
The Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Stallion Supreme is racing in superb form and returns to the Sha Tin straight after two wins over the Happy Valley short course following his runner-up effort behind Fair Navigator over this course three runs back.
Like First In Command, Stallion Supreme is drawn to get every favour in barrier 11 and, with 116 pounds to carry, he will be enormously hard to gun down over the concluding stages if allowed to dictate early.
Dane Patrol, True Valour, and Eternal Beauty all have claims but have also drawn the wrong side of the track and will need to work across early to be any chance, while four debutants add the unknown factor to a race already jam-packed with place hopes.
The middle leg is just as difficult to narrow down, and although Sunny Fay impressed neither Moore nor jockey Darren Beadman with his grinding neck victory over Viva Fighter last start, the horse has drawn to get another beautiful run throughout and the step up to 1,400m looks an ideal progression.
Sunny Fay did not beat much last start after a dream run in the box seat, but he knuckled down to his task well in the straight, and a similar effort over the slightly longer journey should be enough to see him among the finish once again.
Topweight Impeccable might inject some early pace into the race from his wide draw with the visiting jockey Aaron Spiteri in the irons, and that should suit the Yiu-trained stablemate Horseshoe Fortune at the bottom of the weights.
Alex Lai Hoi-wing will be able to smoke his pipe on the gelding from gate three, possibly getting a trail behind or to the inside of Sunny Fay, before cutting him loose in the straight in hope of nailing the horse's first win in Hong Kong.
The Paul O'Sullivan-trained Taverner bounced back to winning form last start and should not be overlooked despite the rise in rating, while Deposer and Sunrise are also capable of figuring in the finish.
Brett Prebble has been riding winners at a strike rate of over 20 per cent in his last 100 rides and the talented hoop has a golden chance to cement that figure with the ride on the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Mister Horse in the opening leg.
Prebble will be sticking to salads to make the 119 pounds for the ride, but the effort should prove fruitful if he can successfully navigate his mount into a position with cover from the awkward barrier 11.
In-form Ricky Yiu has a good winning strike rate down the Sha Tin straight course this term: 14%