Ng's light weight can make the difference
In-demand apprentice Alvin Ng Ka-chun's 10 pounds could hold the key to unlocking tomorrow night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley, starting with Superior Warrior as banker in the opening leg.
He has competitive runners in all three legs, where punters will be chasing an expected dividend of HK$2 million. Superior Warrior is a strong on-pace type who has a win and a second over this course from his last two. He remains in the same grade and Ng could be the difference-maker on his first night riding at the tight city circuit.
Ng's claim means the four-year-old will carry a pound less than the 122 he lumped to victory in a Class Four over this course as favourite on May 25. From barrier seven, Ng can let the four-year-old jump and run and the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained speedster will be right in the firing line when they turn in the Repulse Bay Handicap (1,200m).
A lot has been made of Ng's generous allowance, and it's been well-publicised that he had over 800 overseas rides before beginning his indenture in Hong Kong. He rode seven winners late last season and another at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Even though Ng has extensive overseas experience, junior riders get the benefit of a claim for a reason, they usually lack the tactical nous and race sense of their seniors and can get lost back in a field.
But it is on a frontrunner like Superior Warrior where the weight relief really comes into play. Of the others, Chater Power has only won once in 46 starts, but may have found a mark (48 rating, down five) to compete from and gets the services of Douglas Whyte.
Include him and consider a host of place chances; Rare Treasure (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) goes in, he comes back to a more suitable Class Four and is proven at this course.
Out-of-form Team Work (Olivier Doleuze) endured a winless season in 2009-10, but drops to Class Four for the first time and a career-low rating of 60; at his best he could figure.
Throw in Natural Flame (Brett Prebble), back in his right grade, and All The Winners (Ben So Tik-hung) is happiest at the Valley and could run a hole.
While punters should play wide in the opening leg, they can narrow things down in the second, a Class Four over 1,650m.
First included is Tony Cruz's Redoute Star (Matthew Chadwick) as banker, on the strength of a sensational 1,000m trial at Sha Tin on August 31. Although his best performances are over further, the trial showed he should be fully wound up for a first-up assault.
Ng's allowance could again be critical on Travel Guide, an average galloper, but well placed over this trip at Happy Valley in a less than average race. My Way (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) just scrapes in, and Great Renown (Whyte) gives new trainer Richard Gibson an outside chance at his first Hong Kong-based victory. Nordic Star (Greg Cheyne) could just get the suck run from barrier one.
The final leg, a Class Three, 1,000m scamper, is another race where Ng's claim could be the decisive factor. He takes 10 off the already lightly weighted Hinyuen Paladin, winner of two of his last three and likely to be prominent in the market carrying 106 pounds.
A good gate gives on-pace runner Vintage Hussler (Eddie Lai Wai-ming) some help, if he can hold the rails he could end up with a nice run behind what could be a hot tempo with a few hard going types entered.
Happy Yeah Yeah got all the favours when he broke through for a Class Four win late last season. He will find this harder but he needs to be included among the stand outs with Keith Yeung Ming-lun's five-pound claim and a perfect barrier (three) to again stalk the leaders.
Tony Millard has engaged Tim Clark on Supreme Taiji and the Aussie has a place hope, along with Impeccable (Brett Prebble), light-weight chances Flashing Guy (Derek Leung Ka-chun), Super Plus (Ben So Tik-hung) and Young Turbo (Mark du Plessis).
Pounds talented Alvin Ng claims as an apprentice