MOUNT SAPPHIRE (Nap) looks the best bet on the card at tonight's Happy Valley grass meeting. Trainer Wong Tang-ping has his stable in fine form and Mount Sapphire has always looked as if he would be suited by this evening's 2,230-metre trip. He has that wiry build of a stayer.
He put in a creditable effort when keeping on well to be second to the highly progressive So Easy over a mile at Sha Tin last time and before that indicated his staying potential when a short head second to Oriental Oilfield over 1,800 metres.
Mount Sapphire was most unlucky not to win that day. Only inexperience prevented victory as he ran away from the whip. The dangers look to come from David Hill's improving L'Enjoleur who lost nothing in defeat last time when a close second to Monopoly.
L'Enjoleur has always looked the type who would stay well and now gets his chance to show his stamina credentials. His work going into tonight's event has been exemplary. He has never gone better.
Geoff Lane's Blazing Dragon is ready to run his best race of the season. He found a mile on the short side on the equitrack last time when he was noted staying on strongly to the line to claim third behind Dynamic Racer. This is much more his trip.
Those confirmed stayers, Rising Sun, Royal Blue and Fantastic View should also be included in double trio bets on this race. Meanwhile, L'Enjoleur's jockey Basil Marcus also holds solid quinella chances in the opening three events.
The determined South African comes into the meeting riding as well as, if not better than, ever. He notched a double on Sunday and rode one of the races of the season when second to Super Power on Ivan Allan's Jet Speed.
It is no fluke that Marcus has so many quinella and tierce placings to his name, as his ride on Jet Speed showed. Marcus' mount in the opener, Allan's Broad Shoulder appears to have improved significantly over the past week or so and could run well at a big price in a race which will not take too much winning.
Broad Shoulder went well from the barriers in his final piece of work on Monday morning. But he may find his stablemate Just Delight a shade too good.
Just Delight ran like a future winner on his Hongkong debut and appears to have made good progress since. He went fluently in his final piece on Tuesday morning.
Marcus and Allan combine again with Insider in the second. Insider has been a classic example of a horse showing improved form, having moved from a less successful trainer to a top-class handler. Horses sometimes improve when moving in the opposite direction, such is the revitalising effect a change in environment can bring about.
But, usually, the stable changes to follow are when a top trainer gets a horse from a less successful counterpart. Insider has blossomed in his last couple of runs and looks to have been found a relatively weak event. He benefitted from a fast-run race when streaking home from Humdinger two starts ago and then ran on strongly when second to Golden Rule last time out.
But he may just have to give second best to Eddie K. C. Lo's Cheguei who hinted that he was on the way back to form when fifth to Insider last time out.
Cheguei is 14lb better for the four-and-a-half lengths he finished behind Insider last time out. Cheguei was baulked for a run that day, has worked well since and will also appreciate the move up to a mile.
The third sees another top chance for Marcus on David Hill's consistent type, Classic Warrior who doesn't know how to run a bad race on any surface.
He has the onerous burden of 140lb and that may prevent him winning but it should not deter him from running in the quinella or tierce. Gary Ng Ting-keung's Best One, appears the horse they all have to beat in this event.
He needed his last run when a creditable fifth to Sea Diamond over course and distance and has made good progress since. He worked well in his final piece on Monday morning and jockey Tony Cruz is riding brilliantly.
Helene Delight is bang in form and has to be given plenty of respect, too, but it has to be asked for how long can he hold his form? He has had some hard races of late. Colours Hero should go better with the blinkers for the first time.
Keep Light Sensation in your tierce bets. He needed his last run and could show up at very big odds as he is apprentice ridden having been partnered by Darren Beadman on his last start when he appeared not to stay the distance.