Veteran Leo's Pride to clean up on dirt
Seven-year-old Leo's Pride has been a revelation since switching to the dirt and he can be counted on as a banker as he chases his fourth straight win at tomorrow night's all-weather track meeting at Sha Tin.
Until his latest string of wins, Leo's Pride had won just two of 28 and was regarded as unreliable, but his new-found speciality make him the right horse to build combinations around in the TT's anchor leg.
Late last season, a third on the dirt behind surface-specialists Baitiwu and Golden Treasure hinted at what was to come for Francis Lui Kin-wai's gelding, but it wasn't until his third run this term that he unleashed him on the inner-track.
A come-from-behind Class Four win has been followed by Class Three victories of a similar nature, and he can run a race again over the same 1,650m journey, despite climbing to near the top of the grade.
He has drawn two at what is arguably the least forgiving starting point, in a race which should be run at a suitable tempo for Gerald Mosse, who rode the horse in the first of the three consecutive victories, and in his local maiden.
Consider the John Size-trained I Smell Money as a double banker. Other than a complete forget run two starts back, the tough front-runner continues to produce on the dirt.
Last time out Douglas Whyte had to push wide and hard into the first turn from a wide draw, and was then carved up in front by uncompromising Crown Witness, who won the race.
I Smell Money was fourth, but he was taking ground back of the winner late. That was against better horses than this. Even though he goes from the bottom of a 100-75 to the top of a 60-80 with 133 pounds and, from gate five, he can be put in the race and find his rhythm.
Others to include are Solar Up (Eddie Lai Wai-ming), who could give plenty of cheek with a light weight, and Healthy Blueberry (Ben So Tik-hung), who is up in grade but drawn nicely (four) again.
The Class Four first leg is the toughest to sort out, with Me Tsui Yu-sak holding a strong hand with Prince Of Sunshine (Whyte) and Giant Serapis (Jeff Lloyd), who both should be included.
Prince Of Sunshine has drawn four, and, despite his only try on the dirt being a touch underwhelming on first impressions, he can do better than that against a weak field this time.
He is coming off a Class Five win on the turf, and when he was sent out as favourite on the dirt, he box-seated but didn't get going early enough to challenge.
Giant Serapis is backing up from a career-best effort over 1,400m at big odds on Sunday and should appreciate the step up to the extended mile.
Also consider Suisse D'Or (Andreas Suborics), Mirage R (Mark du Plessis) and Best Noodle (So).
In the middle pin, an extended-ratings band (85-60) contest over 1,200m, and Regency Luck (Matthew Chadwick) stands out as a banker.
The Tony Cruz-trained sprinter doesn't know how to run a bad race as he produced a pearler at his only try on the course and has drawn perfectly in three.
Green Zone (Olivier Doleuze) will appreciate coming back to the dirt and is a major threat, in what is a tough race.
Two others to include are John Size's Paganini's Soul (Whyte), who drops back dramatically in grade, albeit with the resultant weight, and John Moore's Sky Mascot (Tim Clark), a dirt tracker who has drawn wide (12).
Regency Luck [above] doesn't know how to run a bad race as he produced a pearler at his only try on the course and has drawn perfectly in three
The number of times Leo's Pride has won from 31 starts. He has won three on end on the dirt