Punters line up for happy score in TT
A HK$4.5 million jackpot should generate a big Triple Trio pool tomorrow night at Happy Valley, where barrier one on the 'C' course makes Almond Lee's Happy Score a solid banker in the final leg.
Officials estimate a payout of HK$7 million for the TT, and Lee's in-form five-year-old should be the first horse marked on tickets in the Class Four final leg.
All three legs are over the extended mile, and while barriers aren't as critical as in the sprints on the tight track, they are still a huge advantage.
Happy Score comes off two great course and distance runs: he was just nosed out by Mochi last start, following a strong maiden win over Magnanimous.
Last time out, Keith Yeung Ming-lun got going wide and early and only missed on the line, with Zac Purton taking an easier inside route than his rival.
The horse can be ridden handier than that and this time Yeung will find himself two or three back on the rails and waiting for the straight to make his move.
The biggest danger is the lack of pace, something that gives the Peter Ho Leung-trained on-pace runner Easy Ahead (Ben So Yik-hung) some hope if he can regain any semblance of his best form after a couple of poor runs. He could end up with a soft lead; whether he can do anything with it is another matter.
The two last-start winners, Noble De Best (Brett Prebble) and Healthy Manner (Gerald Mosse), both have knocks on them.
Noble De Best has drawn well in two, but the lack of pace will hurt him. He hasn't raced for two months because of a skin allergy.
Healthy Manner has drawn 11 and is also first-up after he was given a two-month break after back-to-back early season wins over 1,800m. He has gone forward over the longer trips, but might not have the pace to get across from the wide gate this time. Two to consider are Something Special (Neil Callan) and Almighty Windpower (Douglas Whyte).
The middle pin is a Class Two, with Richard Gibson's Winning Edge (Olivier Doleuze) taking a step up in grade after an eye-catching last-start win at his first time over this distance.
The six-year-old let down with a lethal sprint to put away his rivals that time and he could do the same to this largely out-of-form lot.
Whyte might have jumped on Derek Cruz's Fun Rider at the right time, who sprinted across from a wide gate last start, then had to chase before turning for home and was beaten 21/2 lengths into third by Military Attack, who got the soft inside run.
The two horses drawn lowest, Withinmyheart (Jacy Tong Chi-kit) and Emperor Claudius (Tim Clark) are both coming off solid lead-up efforts and will get an easy trip. Drawn three, John Moore's Business As Usual (Jeff Lloyd) will be in the market.
The final leg, a Class Three, might require the widest selections, but Right Timing (Clark) is the best horse in the race and can be included on that score alone.
Whyte has chosen to ride Lucky Warrior, but Right Timing has drawn in seven and it's the four-year-old's first time to the Valley.
His first season has been a model of consistency and his only finish outside the top five was due to severe interference and mucopus issues. The Size-trained gallopers are the best educated, so the new challenge shouldn't be a problem.
Others to include are Sunrise (Mosse), who keeps running on, Champagne Days (Andreas Suborics) and Supreme Flight (Umberto Rispoli).