In-form Angland can deliver the goods
In-form jockey Tye Angland pilots three top chances in Sunday's Triple Trio at Sha Tin - but none better than the David Ferraris-trained four-year-old on the rise Liberator.
Angland has snared three wins from his past eight rides - including a double at Sha Tin last Sunday - and his mounts can be included in brackets for all three legs of the TT.
Liberator heads into the anchor leg, a Class Three Handicap (85-60) over 1,800m, third-up after a brave runner-up to smart Best City over the mile on October 10.
Best City loomed as if he would head straight past a weakening Liberator, but he refused to give up and was even taking ground back in a thrilling dog fight to the line.
It probably won't be the last time the two Derby aspirants go head to head and Best City has since franked the form with a win and a tough third.
Ferraris is plotting carefully with the gelding as he eyes the big targets next year and steps up to a course and distance where he excelled last season.
Liberator won three on end, two over Sha Tin's 1,800m - capped off with a 31/4-length walloping of a handy field which confirmed him as well above average. Draw eight isn't perfect, but the horse is versatile and one of Angland's best attributes is his ability to slot in and find cover from difficult draws.
The John Size-trained Enabling is another promising Derby-eligible gelding racing in sound form, but is drawn wide (13). He wasn't fully tested at Happy Valley last start, where he has raced three straight times and returns to Sha Tin - the scene of his breakthrough win over this course and distance last month.
Others to consider are lightly-weighted Burgundy Mac, Hollywood Kiss and North Hill.
A Class Four Handicap - on the always difficult-to-decipher dirt - and a Class Four over the mile with a heap of winning chances mean the TT pay-out could go higher than the estimated HK$2 million payout.
Angland's mounts in the first two pins have appeal, especially the proven all-weather track galloper in Darpana, dropping back in grade in the Chevalier Deco Group Handicap (1,200m).
All three of Darpana's wins have come on Sha Tin's inner track and he comes off a solid fifth in Class Three on this surface.
Of the others, Alvin Ng Ka-chun's 10-pound claim is well-utilised by Caspar Fownes on Track Lightning, who was a touch disappointing last start but could bounce back on the dirt.
Croesus can be given another chance from gate two after a flat last-start performance, while Lucky Boy's light weight and good draw make him a factor. When Notus breaks through for a win, it will be on the dirt.
In the middle leg, Angland jumps aboard The Only Kid, who has been honest his last two starts.
The top hopes appear to be last-start winner Kingston Spartacus, drawn well again for Zac Purton, Paul O'Sullivan's promising back-marker Dividend Champion and Easy Gold - chasing four straight wins after three in Class Five, but burdened with the widest gate.
Other chances include Nicholson, Happy Score and Good Thinker.