Tony Cruz has stamped young sprinter Happy Index as a future top liner on the turf, but the trainer seems intent on making the most of his three-year-old's above-average ability on the all-weather surface.
Happy Index stands out as the best banker in tomorrow's Triple Trio at Sha Tin - which is expected to reach a juicy HK$11 million - as the son of renowned dirt track sire Elusive Quality chases three straight course and distance wins in the anchor leg.
Jumping out from an overall record of three wins and a second from five starts is a perfect three from three record on the dirt, all accomplished with pure speed and catch-me-if-you-can tactics from Matthew Chadwick.
As talented horses like Happy Index are set to progress through the grades, the leap to the top of Class Three seems to bring many undone, but working in Chadwick's favour this time is gate two, from where he won't have to do anything but find a rhythm for his front runner. With 131 pounds, Happy Index will be giving weight to a host of more experienced horses with a liking for the track. Include Palepale (Weichong Marwing), Green Zone (Brett Prebble) and Costa Del Sol (Zac Purton).
The opening leg is a Class Four over a mile on the turf, with two very similar styled horses - Ferrabosco (Tye Angland) and Prosperity (Douglas Whyte) - drawn on opposite sides of the track.
Both love to stride forward at an even speed in front, and while Ferrabosco will be already on the fence from gate one, he will be joined by Prosperity (gate 14) on his outside by the time they get to the first turn.
The pair are relaxed enough not to drive each other mad and honest enough to still be there at the finish, so include them both. The leaders still should ensure a genuine clip though, making run-on chance Burgundy Mac (Prebble) worth a try as he drops into the grade for the first time.
Another horse always dependent on a fast tempo is Danny Shum Chap-shing's Iron Hawk (Marwing), who has a good enough draw (six) to figure, and a key gear change.
Shum has moved from side winkers to blinkers, the gear with which the slightly-built four-year-old has responded best to in the past.
The middle pin is a tricky Class Four over 1,400m, with a stand-out hard to find among five or six winning chances, but Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained Giants Serapis is a decent option as a banker on the strength of his game last-start effort.
The four-year-old is yet to win in 11 tries, but is moving in the right direction and showed plenty of gumption when he was trapped three and four deep last time out, yet stuck on bravely for fifth.
Drawn best of the main hopes are Super Caga (Tim Clark) from barrier four and Solar Boy (Terry Wong Chi-wai) in gate one, but also include Giggles Forever (Prebble) and Lucky Nistelrooy (Umberto Rispoli).
This is the Triple Trio amount, in Hong Kong dollars, one lucky punter can claim for a $10 ticket tomorrow