Mr Award on the way back up the ladder
The once-despised Mr Award has thrown off the poor reputation he gathered as he took time to acclimatise and the Peter Ho Leung-trained gelding looks a lynchpin for the opening leg of Sunday's Triple Trio opening leg.
As a two-year-old, Mr Award showed above-average ability winning the Listed Woodcote Stakes at the Epsom Derby meeting, relegating into second place the same Dubawi Gold that finished fourth in the Hong Kong Mile and will contest the Duty Free in Dubai tomorrow.
As a result, Mr Award arrived on a rating at the top of Class Three but simply didn't take to the place in his first year and plummeted 50 points in the handicap.
Since arriving in Class Five, Mr Award has turned it around, winning twice but putting together highly consistent performances in general - a sure sign that he is on the way back up the ladder. He couldn't have been more impressive to the eye or on the clock in winning his latest Class Five run at Sha Tin by a big space and, with Ben So Tik-hung's claim, he enters Class Four again with a postage-stamp 114 pounds.
That weight pull stands him in good stead, but he meets a decent field, as lightly raced and talented runners like Serendipity, Giggles Forever and Silver Dragon look the testing material among those racing well in Class Four, with newcomers Why Not and Sea Diamond also runners of interest.
The second leg looks a tough one, though Ho could again produce the banker in The Fast Lane (Howard Cheng Yue-tin).
The Fast Lane ran well at all three racecourse appearances, the last a strong-finishing win over this course and distance. But this is a tough race with several last-start winners and probably six genuine winning chances. Good Hong Kong has been freshened up since two placings over 1,400m in January and doesn't have the fitness of The Fast Lane, but the booking of Douglas Whyte looks important.
Richard Gibson has turned around the form of a number of horses and he has his second crack at White Hart King. The gelding was a respectable fourth at Happy Valley last time over 1,650m but might find the line stronger at 1,400m. Place chances also include Maelstrom and Travel Guide back in class, Mega Champion, who should have finished closer last start and Giants Serapis, who has found some form.
Two young sprinters on the way up hold the key to the final event, too, with Electronic Fortune (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) looking the banker material over Simple (Whyte).
Electronic Fortune pulled ferociously when Manfred Man Ka-leung stepped him up in trip to 1,400m last start and that ruined his chances when favourite. A veteran of three runs, he looks better suited coming back to 1,200m, where he was a smart winner on debut earlier in the term.
Simple has an awkward gate in barrier 11, but that's probably not too much of a concern as he looked good ridden quietly when he won for Whyte second up.
There was nothing at all wrong with Keen Marie's last win at this trip and he looks a player again, despite having to concede weight to the other chances. Keen Tactics (Olivier Doleuze) will relish the step up to 1,200m after some decent 1,000m effort and lightly raced PP, Happy Ceramibo (Gerald Mosse), has improved at each outing and was a sound runner-up last time from a similar low draw.
The amount Mr Award, who has turned his form around since dropping into Class Five, has earned