Owners' Pride didn't have the necessary ratings points to break into Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Mile field, but that particular trip looks made to order and Danny Shum Chap-shing's budding stayer gets his first crack at the Sha Tin 1,600m on the same day.
A record of three from five would have attracted some support for Owners' Pride in the first of the four-year-old series but, with a rating of 74, he still needs a couple of impressive performances and at least one win to force his way into the BMW Hong Kong Derby in March. The majority of those points can come on Sunday: with barrier one and coming off a dominant 1,400m effort, Owners' Pride stands out as a banker in the final leg of a Triple Trio, which is boosted by a HK$3.3 million jackpot.
Zac Purton will be looking to make it two from two on Owners' Pride, after his last start where he sat near the tail and rounded up a quality Class Three field on international day. An indication of Owners' Pride needing further was the way he looked to be laboring at the 200m, but lengthened stride impressively from then on, and his work in the last 100m was his best of the race.
This is no weak field either, with Intellectualstride (Eddie Lai Wai-ming), Holyangelholy (Tye Angland) and Goldland Dancer (Andreas Suborics) all sure to gain deserved support - and they are who to include with the banker.
In the opening leg, Purton climbs on another horse suited by stepping up to the mile, although not for the first time: the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Why Not.
A still green four-year-old, Why Not made a tough job look relatively simple when he whipped around the field to score his long-awaited maiden.
Why Not will have taken a lot of benefit from the run educationally, and his only run over the course and distance was his previous career-best.
The competition here is good too, John Size goes for the blinkers on Forever Ahead (Douglas Whyte) - a horse that stepped up to the distance last start and seemed well suited. He goes in with the well-drawn Africa Light (Gerald Mosse) and The Fast Lane (Olivier Doleuze).
Size has the likely race favourite in the middle pin, Red Courage (Whyte) second-up and sticking to the 1,200m. Drawn four in a field with three first-starters, Red Courage will be sitting close to the speed, with main danger and double banker option Sudden Thunder (Purton) forced to get across from barrier 10 to take up his customary on-pace role.
Of the first-starters, go with Smart Man (Tim Clark), although he doesn't have the forward appearance that some of John Moore's recent newcomers have had. Include better-drawn Bomber Jet (Ben So Tik-hung) and Happy Yeah Yeah (Keith Yeung Ming-lun), who has dropped to a dangerous mark.
(3) Sunshine Boy, (5) Money Wins Wins, (7) Gorgeous Life, (13) Polygold.
(1) Lovely Boy, (4) Berlinsky, (5) Dragon Keeper, (9) Packing De Lago.
(2) Smart Volatility, (4) T-Bolt, (9) Sea Dragon, (10) Speed Thunder.
(1) The Fast Lane, (5) Why Not, (6) Heco Rider, (7) Forever Ahead.
(2) Affluence Of Rain, (4) Winnie's Horse, (5) Croatia, (9) Red Courage.
(1) Genki Twins, (4) Holyangelholy (9) Shantaraam, (10) Goldland Dancer.
(2) Wah May Star, (5) Gold-Fun, (9) Rainbow Chic, (11) Happy Era.
(3) Glorious Days, (4) Xtension, (6) Packing Whiz, (12) Fay Fay.
(2) Fionn's Treasure, (3) Strathtay, (8) Sea Diamond, (10) Tour De Force.
(1) Beauty Lead, (3) Noble Alpha, (5) Mr Medici, (12) Garlic Boy.
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