Elusive Prince can rule again for Size
A move back to 1,200m on the all-weather track for Elusive Prince proved a master stroke by trainer John Size and the four-year-old can make it three straight wins - and provide an important banker - in the middle leg of tomorrow night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
An opening leg full of winning chances make finding the TT even tougher than usual, but, with an estimated dividend of HK$2 million on offer and some standouts in the final two legs, it is certainly worth chasing.
Given how hard the first leg is, double banking in the final two can open up options - start with Elusive Prince and Happy Yeah Yeah in a Class Three Handicap (1,200m).
Elusive Prince had eight winless starts, the last one a third over 1,400m, before the ever-thoughtful Size dropped the gelding back in distance and on to the dirt - the trainer citing the horse's lack of toughness for the change of tack. The gelding responded with a confidence-building victory, and last start at Happy Valley he showed some quality with a barnstorming 21/2-length win, which saw him leap into the middle of Class Three with an eight-point penalty.
He has drawn the right sort of alley (six) for Douglas Whyte to be able to gain a spot just handy in a race with plenty of speed.
Also drawn perfectly is Happy Yeah Yeah, a one-time winner at the city course who will jump from two. The Almond Lee-trained sprinter always seem to be among it and Keith Yeung Min-lun takes five pounds off the gelding's back.
Place options are Hawthorne, Star Of Fame and Flying Smart.
The final leg, another Class Three over 1,200m, reveals a couple of standouts in promising types Lucky Follow Me (gate six) and Danewin Winning (four) - they have both drawn well enough to lock them in as bankers.
Darren Beadman takes over on the hard-to-handle Lucky Follow Me, replacing Gerald Mosse and reforming his deadly combination with Danny Shum Chap-shing.
Six of Beadman's 14 wins have been for Shum this season and the trainer only seems to put the Australian on strong winning chances.
Lucky Follow Me has won three of his last six and a win in this grade proves he is up to it.
Danewin Winning has shown terrific fighting qualities - two starts in Australia and four in Hong Kong - only missing the quinella once.
It's only a matter of time before the Tony Cruz-trained sprinter breaks through and, with Matthew Chadwick back on board from barrier four, this could be his night.
It's slim pickings outside of this two, with some complete non-factors free-falling back through the grades.
Of the rest, three near the top of the weights have some appeal, but all have drawn awkwardly.
Shahjee (gate eight), Pocket Rockets (11) and Sunny Fay (12) all come into consideration.
The opening leg is a Class Four Handicap (1,200m) so even it's hard not to let barrier draws split the difference - especially with the rail in the 'C' position.
The rail configuration over this trip make it the most unforgiving starting point for those drawn wide.
The two horses drawn lowest have serious claims - Rocket Proud and Wind Damper - and drawn in three and four are another couple of place hopes, Gamekeepers and Par Excellence respectively.
Gamekeepers is a raw youngster who may should have taken significant improvement from his debut effort at this course, while Par Excellence lacks zip in a finish, but he is always a place hope from a good gate.
Lucky Record still has upside and will start in the market, while others are Fortune Together, Diamond Rainbow and Spicy Shrimp.