Bumper can strike from a gem draw
Whole-hearted John Size-trained Bumper Strike has finally drawn a gate and, freshened up for a weak special-conditions race, he looks an ideal banker in the opening leg of a jackpot-boosted Triple Trio at Happy Valley on Sunday.
While Bumper Strike is no high-end star, the game and gallant gelding can be forgiven for his last-start failure and counted on as the stand-out in a Class Four over his preferred distance of 1,650m.
After a run of five consecutive course and distance placings - where he drew 11, 11, nine, 11 and seven - Bumper Strike's heavy workload told last time out when he finished last.
The poor outing wasn't a complete shock, as it was the five-year-old's 10th run this term and he had endured a tough run when stuck wide from another disastrous draw (10). Douglas Whyte had hunted forward from the wide gate, got stuck three-deep with no cover through the first turn and stayed there.
Regardless of the tough trip, Whyte later reported the horse had raced 'flat', and he comes in off a light training regime with plenty of swimming and a five-week break.
Bumper Strike has drawn one, and he won't know himself as he gets a chance to relax right when the gates open, rather than be hustled into a forward position in the hectic run to the first turn.
Whyte is suspended and his arch-rival Brett Prebble gets his fifth chance for the Size yard this season.
The Australian has ridden for his compatriot 95 times since 2003 for eight wins and 23 placings, but hasn't booted a winner for more than two years.
Prebble's last success for the leading stable was a double at Sha Tin on February 21, 2010, but Bumper Strike's consistency should ensure he adds to his win tally.
The race is for Class Four horses with more than three starts who have not won this season.
The Andreas Schutz-trained Istide (Andreas Suborics) seems the next pick. He is drawn three and will be given a perfect run. Others to consider are Connoisseur's Pick (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) and Rainbow Seeker (Tim Clark).
More then HK$4 million has been carried over into the TT pool and the final two legs is where punters need to go wide in order to snare a share of the prize.
Bold front-running Billion (Cheng) can run a cheeky race in the middle pin, a Class Four over the extended mile. Bank on him and throw in four others.
Magnanimous (Suborics) and Chancellor (Derek Leung Ka-chun) are both racing consistently - despite both being drawn wide, they have to be included.
Yuan's Fortune (Jeff Lloyd) meets Magnanimous three pounds better at the weights after being beaten a head in a race where he was slow away.
Happy Score (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) has finished top three over the course and distance on three straight occasions and can't be ignored from gate two.
The final leg is a 1,000m Class Three, where Ride On The Fire (Jackie Tong Chi-kit) returns to a tried-and-true formula - the Valley short course and a low gate.
The four-year-old has won two from his last three at the course and distance, both times when drawn one or two, a runner-up effort when drawn five in between.
Punters will have to put aside an inexplicable tailed-off last effort on the dirt but, with 113 pounds and the draw, he should prove up to this grade.
Hawthorne (Terry Won Chi-wai) has been mixing it with better company than this and can be included after drawing well (four), while Genki Moochi (Lloyd) gets a much-needed gear change to blinkers.
Lucky Turbo (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) and Merry Anniversary (Weichong Marwing) are place hopes.