Paul O'Sullivan's flashy-looking four-year-old Cai Bao In will be suited by stepping up to 2,000m for the first time on Sunday and can act as a banker in a jackpot-boosted Triple Trio at Sha Tin.
Nearly HK$2 million is waiting in the TT pool, and O'Sullivan's untapped galloper can go one better than his last-start runner-up performance behind Real Specialist.
With blinkers on for the first time over 1,800m, Cai Bao In did it tougher than the winner, racing three-wide, albeit with cover. Real Specialist was in a lovely one-off trailing position and did what he was meant to as 2.1 favourite, but Cai Bao In let down like he was going to challenge.
There is still a tinge of greenness to Cai Bao In. He already has a slightly ungainly action, and when he sees the front he gets his head up in the air and seems to half-baulk at the winning post.
Hopefully the extra 200m gives the gelding some extra time to allow his athleticism to overcome any mental blockages. He has won before though, a last-to-first effort in Class Four, which gives some confidence. It seems the son of Hawk Wing can pay more of the HK$6 million owners forked out for him at last year's Hong Kong International Sales.
His runs in Class Three have been good and, with 120 pounds from gate three, Tim Clark can get him cover and peel off what should be a decent speed.
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's Fun Heroes (Gerald Mosse) is next. He comes in off a strong last-start effort and three consecutive placings since a breakthrough win.
Caspar Fownes has used Zac Purton judiciously this term, engaging him eight times for two wins and four placings, and they combine with Vigor Delight, who gets the benefit of gate one and will be running on.
Andreas Schutz pair Eagle Spirit (Matthew Chadwick) and Super Strike (Derek Leung Ka-chun) seem a little outclassed in this grade, but can be counted on as place hopes. Side winkers and the use of Chadwick on Eagle Spirit is probably a hint at aggressive tactic from barrier six.
The middle pin is a Class Four over the mile, with Danny Shum Chap-shing's consistent Iron Hawk the best banker. He has drawn well in three and Brett Prebble becomes the four-year-old's eighth jockey in 13 starts .
Iron Hawk is a smallish horse who has struggled with big weights at the top of the grade, but it is only a matter of time before the backmarker gets the right race to breakthrough.
Last start it appeared he would be a touch closer in the run, but got shuffled back at a key stage and ran on hard late.
Top Dragon (Jeff Lloyd) had to do it tough winning last start and he can place again, while Ferrabosco (Tye Angland) bounded back from a heart irregularity with a typically strong front-running effort when runner-up last start. Gate one and Douglas Whyte back aboard mean one more chance for Saddlers Lodge, who didn't run out this trip last start.
In the final leg, another Class Four (1,400m), Super Caga can rebound from a hellish run last start, when Gerald Mosse was stuck four deep around the circle on the 'C+3' course and then stuck on bravely for fourth. Before that he had two course and distance wins .
Others to throw in are Enjoy The Fun (Whyte), John Dory, with John Size using Alvin Ng Ka-chun's 10-pound claim, Papas (Suborics) and Solar Boy (Ben So Tik-hung).
The amount owners forked out for Cai Bao In at last year's Hong Kong International Sales