Middle pin the key to triple trio hopes
A pair of horses screaming out for a mile and drawn in the bottom two gates can form the spine of selections in the middle leg of the Triple Trio at Sha Tin on Sunday.
David Hall's Medallist and the David Ferraris-trained Theheroinmyheart step up to 1,600m for the first time at their fourth starts and their eye-catching lead-up efforts indicate a readiness for the trip.
The Class Four middle pin is where fewer picks can be made and double banking with the duo can provide flexibility in the other two legs, especially with the opening Class Four (2,000m) event looking tough.
After a fifth on debut over 1,200m, Medallist was thrown in against some classy campaigners in the Griffin Trophy (1,400m). He showed he had some upside with a run-on fourth behind Fionn's Treasure, Bear Hero and Wah May Star - a trio who all seem bound for bigger things.
The three-year-old then confirmed the form and showed a liking for more ground with a dashing third behind Dr Super 20 days ago. The son of Exceed And Excel has two half-siblings to have won over 1,500m and 1,800m, adding confidence to his case. From gate two and with Brett Prebble aboard, he will be getting the run of the race and suitable speed.
Ferraris hoped Wednesday's Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Mile win with Sweet Orange would spark his miserable season, and the turnaround could continue with Theheroinmyheart.
All three of his runs have been at 1,400m - a steady midfield debut at big odds, followed by a last-to-third effort and finally a forgivable sixth.
Tim Clark, who takes the ride again, was forced back to last from a wide gate and his mount seemed to be running into contention. A hefty bump at a critical stage halted his momentum, and the way he picked up again indicates he will appreciate more ground.
From gate one, Clark can concentrate on getting the horse to relax.
The late withdrawal of Winning Mascot takes the depth right out of the race, with few other options. The Peter Ng Bik-kuen-trained Spicy Siam was sent around triple-figure odds on debut, but did enough to suggest a mile should suit, too, when running him for fourth just behind Medallist.
Istide (Keith Yeung Ming-lung) is a well-exposed seven-year-old who hasn't won since May 2010, but his recent runs have shown some improvement.
In the final leg, a Class Four (1,400m) contest, Danny Shum Chap-shing's honest Good Hong Kong (Darren Beadman) looms as the best banker. With Zac Purton aboard last time out, he was hampered in the run home, but was eating up ground late when beaten half-a-length by Dr Super.
At the same course and distance at start number four, barrier six and an expected solid tempo are made to order.
Twin Turbo (Olivier Doleuze) was a flat third as favourite last start when he ran into impressive debutante G-One Winning. He still has upside and barrier one gives him a perfect trail to be among the placegetters. He be considered as the second banker.
Another horse with potential to improve is the Caspar Fownes-trained Lord Dragon (Prebble), coming off a great runner-up effort behind Electronic Fortune on debut. His breeding suggests the extra 200m will be an advantage, too, with two half-siblings having dour tendencies.
A peg down from the top three, but worth consideration is Chancellor (Matthew Chadwick), with Tony Cruz hoping blinkers spark him into action, and All The Winners (Ben So Tik-hung).
The opening leg is a 2,000m Class Four, with key barrier draws throwing the race wide open.
Super Strike (Tye Angland) burst through from a clear last at his last start and the Andreas Schutz-trained backmarker needs things to go his way again but, at least, he gets a favourable draw (four).
Kingston Spartacus seems to be coping with Class Four, judging by his strong last-start third, but Purton will have to deal with gate 12. Others with place claims are Sunny Sky, Mr Marfach, Prosperity and Sabina.