Paul O'Sullivan's Cai Bao In still has plenty of maturing to do, but a handy draw and suitable tempo should overcome any problems when he heads to Happy Valley for the first time tomorrow night, with the last-start winner looking the best banker in the middle leg of the Triple Trio.
An International Sales graduate, Cai Bao In debuted this season and has compiled a tidy record of two wins and three placings from eight starts, but his trainer has always maintained that more time and further ground would bring out the best in the son of Hawk Wing.
Cai Bao In's win over 1,800m at Sha Tin on Audemars Piguet QE II Cup day would have given the raw talent a boost of confidence, as he spotted the leaders a huge start and stormed home for a narrow victory.
The way he half-baulked at times in the run home showed there is still some greenness, thus some improvement left. There was still plenty of merit in the win as Zac Purton had to shunt his way clear at the point of the turn and asked the gelding to pick up quickly. Smart performer Loving Star was on his inside the whole way up the straight and even though Purton seemed hard at work to keep his mount switched on, he still had the necessary talent to hold on more comfortably than the short victory margin indicated.
With Purton suspended, Brett Prebble is the right man for the job. The change of rider should provide a spark, as will the switch to Happy Valley.
An early season trial over 1,000m by Cai Bao In saw the horse out-paced, but more importantly, handle the tight turns easily.
While a change of venue is some sort of concern, stepping out to 2,200m isn't, and even though he gets back in his races, barrier three and a genuine speed should favour Cai Bao In's swooping tactics.
The likely leader is Shiny Day (Ben So Tik-hung), a tough front-runner who has continued to surprise with four wins and only one unplaced effort from nine starts. When he gets his own way out in front he is nearly impossible to get past.
From gate two, he will cross to the rail, with Fortune Winner, from gate five, likely to move up to his outside. Those two on their own might not create cut-throat lead sections, but Travel Brand - blinkers on for the first time - may put pressure on them, as shown in some of his previous runs.
Taking a perfect sit from gate one will be a genuine stayer out to maintain his trainer's excellent record in distance races the season - David Ferraris' Tres Magnifique (Tim Clark), who broke through for his first local win last start over 2,200m at Sha Tin two weeks ago.
The victory gave Ferraris a perfect two-from-two record in 2,200m races this term after Liberator won at the city track in April. Liberator's win in Sunday's Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup over 2,400m gave him a three-from-four record overall in races beyond 2,000m.
Tres Magnifique isn't in the same class as Liberator, but from barrier one he gets to run his type of race, nipping at the leader's heels in the run and chiming in late.
Banksters Bonus (Weichong Marwing) is on the improve and will appreciate the step up in trip, while course and distance specialist Victory Mascot needs to be included as he has nothing to carry.
Punters hoping to grab a share of the HK$1.3 million jackpot-boosted TT need to negotiate a tricky opening leg, a Class Four over 1,800m.
Telecom Supremo (Ben So Tik-hung) can be played as a banker, despite a wide draw. He seems to be heading in the right direction with six straight top-four finishes and a course and distance win three starts back.
Shifachi Tradition (Douglas Whyte) also warrants some consideration as a banker. He is better than he has shown in his five starts for Richard Gibson and a drop in grade and barrier four put him in the race.
In a skinny race, include Vilasol (Prebble), Sunny More (Derek Leung) and Solar Wonder (Mark du Plessis).
In the final leg, Mochi steps up to a more suitable 1,650m after running on at the end of 1,200m last time out at his first time in Class Three.
After So's three-pound allowance, Mochi carries 111 pounds and, from barrier seven, he should be able to find some cover.
Alvin Ng Ka-chun's seven-pound claim is perfect for Manfred Man Ka-leung's Flying In. From barrier four, he could even act as a second banker.
Others to ponder are Zachary (Alex Lai Hoi-wing), Enthusing (Clark) and Horse Aplenty (Whyte).