Dropping to a better draw and engaging a jockey desperate to impress could be the difference when the John Size-trained Croesus attempts to break through for his first win since he was a griffin in the middle leg of the Triple Trio at Happy Valley tomorrow night.
With just over three weeks of a three-month tenure gone, Tommy Berry has already ridden four winners for three trainers - knocking them in at a strike rate of 8 per cent.
Berry can ride light and a two-point drop in the handicaps for Croesus probably granted him the ride - 115 pounds seems a dangerous weight in the Class Three 1,000m race.
Croesus was one-for-one as a two-year-old in 2010-11, beating Wah May Star by a short head in a late season griffin race up the Sha Tin straight. It ensured the three-year-old started last season on a mark of 59 and, even though he hasn't won since, typical Size consistency has meant he has climbed into Class Three.
Croesus was placed in three of six starts last season and after a delayed start to this term's preparation because of lameness, he rattled off four straight placings. At his last two starts he has found trouble in the run, but at least that has given him some crucial relief from the handicapper.
By far the biggest factor in favour of Croesus is the change in luck at the barrier draw as he has drawn double figures at his last four starts. This time, from gate two on the "C" course, he will get to reprise his favoured run pattern of being handy.
In fact, the bottom three barriers contain the three biggest chances: take Croesus as a banker but consider Gold Edition (Gerald Mosse) from gate one as an option as a double banker, bearing in mind there are more difficult races either side of the middle pin.From gate three, Super Fresh (Andreas Suborics) has claims. Consider last-start dirt winner Sunshine Kid (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) as he has won at this track previously, albeit over 1,200m, but the key is the blinkers going on as he drops back in trip.
One not to ignore is B Choice (Brett Prebble), one of the most impressive debut winners last season but has battled a 12-point rise in the ratings and setbacks since.
B Choice was an encouraging first-up third earlier this season but missed three months' work recovering from a tendon issue and further wounds to a hind leg. Upon returning 31/2 weeks ago at Sha Tin, B Choice was set an impossible task from gate 14 when he was sent forward and then trapped wide. He stuck on for sixth, but forget he went around. He has trialled well since and the only thing stopping him from starting favourite is another awkward draw in eight.
Douglas Whyte sticks with Dennis Yip Chor-hong's Demokles, indicating there is probably something there, despite a horrendous debut on the dirt, but he might not get much of an opportunity after drawing widest.
The opening leg, a Class Four over 1,650m, is perhaps the hardest to find a standout. Diligent III is a non-winner but is consistent enough. He has finished top four in six of his last seven starts.
The other banker option is Fluke, with Whyte jumping aboard as he drops in grade and gets a gun draw in two. The nine-year-old has only won three times in 54 starts but all of those victories have been at the course and distance and he has found a weak field.
Others to consider are Ambitious Treasure (Olivier Doleuze), Sight Lover (Weichong Marwing) and Silver Dragon (Prebble).
The final leg is a tricky Class Three cup race over 1,200m where the Tony Cruz-trained Multivictory (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) is the obvious banker. Drawing two was key after employing the claimer and the on-pace runner should get the box-seat run behind likely leader Tomodachi (Richard Fourie).
Include Tomodachi, but also keep Supreme Falcon (Marwing) and Grimmy (Zac Purton) safe. Take into account wide gates when deciding whether to include Joyful The Great (Whyte) and Highest Acclaim (Jackie Tong Chi-kit).