Peppermint can make for sweet success
The combination of the Caspar Fownes-trained Peppermint and jockey Brett Prebble can provide a reliable banker in the second leg of Thursday's Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
The HK$11 million estimated dividend looks an achievable one, at least by TT standards, headed by Fownes' consistent gelding.
The four-year-old comes in off an eye-catching first-up run over 1,400m and gets up to what looks like his best trip in a Class Four over 1,650m.
First time at Happy Valley, top weight and a tricky draw (nine) complicate matters for Prebble, but offsetting the negatives is what should be a suitably hot speed that will allow him to slot back in the field and storm home late.
There are at least half a dozen horses that like to get forward and sometimes that can be a trap as jockeys out-think themselves and all hold up, but Peppermint should get the race run to suit.
Last start Peppermint was dragged back out of the gates and stormed home for a fast-finishing fourth over 1,400m at Sha Tin, looking every bit the miler that he is.
Peppermint's sole win from six starts was over 1,600m at Sha Tin, where Prebble took the reins and found the right run in midfield for the sit-sprinter. From there he managed to scramble home, despite a slow speed.
He will relish the extended mile of Happy Valley and will run a huge race.
Travel Guide hit the line strongly last start, despite never being on the track. If apprentice Alvin Ng Ka-chun can find cover he will figure and the David Hall-trained Jun Hua merits inclusion courtesy of consistency in this grade and a good draw (two) for Terry Wong Chi-wai to navigate to a handy position.
Jolly Wongchoy and Viva Guy come out of the same lead-up race three weeks ago when second and third respectively behind Great Renown and both have place claims.
A tidy draw and drop back in grade make Teamwork banker material for the opening leg over 1,200m. The eight-year-old found it tough last time out in Class Three, but still ran a credible sixth.
His first-up run is a better guide. Carrying 133 pounds, two more than he cops here, the gelding ran on nicely for second behind Chater Power and outsprinted two subsequent winners in Mega Champion and Sammy's Falcon in the process.
Barriers are critical at the 1,200m start, particularly with the rail in the 'C+3' position, and from gate three, Eddie Lai Wai-ming should be able to get cover for the 60-start veteran or even find the fence.
From a better draw, you could easily have Track Lightning on top. The Fownes-trained galloper was knocking on the door last prep with four consecutive Class Four placings. He goes in with the last-start winner My Memory, who lumps four more pounds than in his gritty victory at Sha Tin.
Forget that Bespoke Master went wide throughout at his last start; with Douglas Whyte back on board and from barrier one, he could figure.
The final leg, a Class Three handicap (1,200m), is by far the toughest of the three.
The Fownes-Prebble combination factor again with Many Gains, who made remarkable improvement late last season.
He is now off a ratings high (73), but has drawn well and might take some catching,.
The John Size-trained Moneymaker is coming off an encouraging Hong Kong debut. The four-year-old was running on for fifth over a 1,000m and the extra 200m will suit.
Barrier two brings Star Of Fame into calculations, while the addition of blinkers to Ancient Kingdom by Andreas Schutz may have been the key, judging by his last trial effort.
The amount, in HK dollars, Thursday night's Happy Valley Triple Trio is expected to reach