After missing his last start due to a slight setback, David Hall's promising sprinter Bundle Of Joy drops back to 1,000m for his Happy Valley debut - bringing with him form around one of this season's rising stars - and he looks an iron-clad banker in the final leg of the Triple Trio.
Bundle Of Joy was slated for a 1,200m Class Three at the city course just over three weeks ago before a blood abnormality saw him withdrawn on race-day eve. The issue must not have been too serious as the three-year-old was back out on the all-weather track and in the pool soon after.
Previous to that, Bundle Of Joy gave Bullish Friend - who has since won twice and is now rated in the 90s - all he could handle over six furlongs at Sha Tin, losing by a head. With Derek Leung Ka-chun filling in for Brett Prebble to accommodate Bundle Of Joy's weight of 113 pounds, he was ridden hard to contest the lead from gate 13 as Bullish Friend sat in the box seat. Bundle Of Joy sat outside the leader and, with the benefit of a 14-pound pull in the weights, looked to have got the better of Bullish Friend, who got a rails run in the straight.
On debut in March, Bundle Of Joy produced an impressive win up the straight that wasn't without incident. After being set off by a misbehaving horse in the adjoining stall, Bundle Of Joy became fractious and bungled the start before racing a touch greenly. He was still able to rattle off a sub 21-second 800-400m split to gather up the leaders and then pull away, with Prebble sitting motionless on the line.
Gate seven for a still-learning horse is a concern, but he produced a faultless winning trial at the circuit before his first start. He might have to be content with a spot outside the lead though, with Precision King (Howard Cheng Yue-yin) drawn four.
The pace doesn't look extreme inside him and if he finds the rail and some rhythm, Bundle Of Joy will be difficult to get past for a moderate bunch, especially carrying just 118 pounds (Prebble will claim one over).
Precision King's encouraging last-start run puts him in the frame and also consider Danny Shum Chap-shing's New Zealand-bred Charity Joy (Alex Lai Hoi-wing), a two-year-old having his first local start.
Charity Joy caned his rivals by 51/2 lengths in an 880m scamper at Ruakaka late last year and has twice trialled nicely since arriving. It's a tough ask for a juvenile to be thrown into Class Three, but he looks to have above-average ability.
Nobody But You (Eddie Lai Wai-ming) has to go in after drawing one. The Gary Ng Tik-keung-trained five-year-old can be forgiven for a last-start failure at Sha Tin. He drew one in a straight race and raced in the centre of the track, a situation worse than drawing widest at the Valley, especially for a backmarker with little gate speed.
Before that he was a back-to-back winner - over 1,000m, then 1,200m - from similar draws at the city track. Croesus (Douglas Whyte) and Super Fresh (Andreas Suborics) are the other options.
The first leg is a Class Four over 1,000m, with no real stand-out as a banker. Play narrow with four or five selections, headed by the John Size-trained debutan Dehere's The Love (Douglas Whyte), a progressive looking Private Purchase Griffin. His three trials have been good and Size doesn't send them to the Valley if it could be a bad experience. The only concern is gate 10.
The others to play around with are last-start winner D Day Super (Gerald Mosse), Flashing Guy (Tye Angland) and Po Ching King (Keith Yeung Ming-lun). There will be a big watch on Red Lucky Star (Prebble) so expect improvement third up for new trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai and with blinkers back on.
The middle pin is a typically tricky Class Four special-conditions race over 1,650m. Take Riyadh (Olivier Doleuze) as a banker from Super Tiger (Prebble), Ottimo (Cheng), Affection (Tommy Berry) and Expectator (Richard Fourie).