Costa Del Sol has been a revelation since a mid-season move to Sha Tin's all-weather track and the four-year-old looks a good thing from an ideal draw tomorrow night on the same course.
Following three exceptional performances on the inner circuit, the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained gelding stands out as a rock-solid banker in the middle pin of the Triple Trio at the all-dirt meeting.
In-form jockey Zac Purton, who has been aboard for the gelding's last five starts, gets the relative luxury of gate four after jumping from impossible barriers against classy opposition at his last two starts.
Last time out Costa Del Sol put in a sensational effort, jumping quickly from gate 12, but getting stuck a lung-busting three deep with no cover. Purton was never able to get into the running line or gain any semblance of cover, and even though he was left posted out wide, his mount continued to give at the end of 1,200m to finish a neck second to the smart Happy Index.
Two starts ago, Purton snagged straight back to last from barrier 11 and made a strong run to finish third behind the same horse.
This time from a reasonable draw, Purton can emulate the horse's first seasonal success of three starts back when he positioned his horse in midfield before gunning down potential top-liner Wah May Star, and beating tomorrow's rival Palepale.
Back over the same 1,200m, a lack of speed is a slight concern, as is his impost of 133 pounds, nine pounds more than his first dirt track display. Out-weighing the negatives is the fact Costa Del Sol has been matching it with Wah May Star and Happy Index, horses on the way up, giving the impression that Yip's charge is better than Class Three, at least on the surface.
Palepale (Tim Clark) again looks set to fill a place on the dirt from barrier two after top-four finishes in each of Costa Del Sol's three highlighted efforts.
Also coming out of the same race last start is the Caspar Fownes-trained Green Zone. Jacky Tong Chi-kit takes over from Brett Prebble and needs to navigate from gate nine, but the honest performer goes on the ticket.
Rumba King (Weichong Marwing) also performs on the surface and is drawn well enough in six to be included.
There should be intense pressure heading into the first turn of the opening leg, with a host of on-pace runners entered in the Class Four contest from the tough 1,650m starting point.
Classic Boy (Marwing) was a touch disappointing when heavily supported last start, but gate one and his hold-up tactics give him some appeal as a banker.
Suisse D'Or (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) is in great form and won at the last night-time Sha Tin fixture over the course and distance two starts ago. From gate nine, however, he runs the risk of being stranded in the super-fast run to the first turn as he searches for his usual handy running position.
Bottom-weight Felarof (Matthew Chadwick) seems to have turned the corner and seems capable of a Class Four win, particularly from a low draw, which he gets in three. It is Felarof's first try on the dirt, but a forward trial in March indicates he handles the surface and a forward-running style is a plus from the gate.
Also consider Amazing Journey (Prebble) and Top Dragon (Douglas Whyte).
In the final leg, a Class Three contest over the extended mile, bank on Quantum Power's switch back to the dirt, where he scored his solitary victory in January, to bring out his best as he steps beyond 1,400m for the first time.
Gate five is a bonus for Olivier Doleuze against a weak field, with Leo's Pride (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) - gunning for his fourth dirt win this term - an option as a second banker.
Blessing (Tye Angland), Always Something (Chadwick) and Happy Seven (Derek Leung Ka-chun) are the best options of a very bad lot.
Following three exceptional dirt performances, Costa Del Sol stands out as a banker in the middle pin of the Triple Trio
The winning strike rate for Dennis Yip and Zac Purton, who have been a deadly combination this term