Dennis Yip Chor-hong's Travel Brand won his last start in a manner which suggested he can handle a hefty hike in the ratings and cope with bouncing back up in grade, making him the ideal Triple Trio banker over the course and distance (1,800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Travel Brand, an Irish-bred who won over 2,000m in his homeland, caned his rivals by 3-1/4 lengths three weeks ago in Class Four, his second start since he dropped to the grade at the start of the term. The four-year-old lines up again over this distance against a relatively decent field of stayers in the Po Leung Kuk Centenary Cup.
Zac Purton again rides Travel Brand, whose ability to take a position better than midfield will be crucial in a race that shouldn't be run at any sort of serious gallop.
Tres Magnifique will be near the front, but won't be running quick sectionals, leaving Eagle Spirit (Tim Clark) a chance of pinching a cheap lead, although Let's Goal could also roll forward from his wide gate with Matthew Chadwick aboard.
Another horse coming in off a double digit re-adjustment from the handicapper is Endowing (Douglas Whyte), who won impressively at Happy Valley last week over 2,200m and has some appeal as a double banker, even though he carries 133 pounds this time. Also include Taknam (Derek Leung Ka-chun), distance specialist Hear The Roar (Weichong Marwing) and in-form Breeze Of Luck (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) with 115 pounds on his back.
The horse Travel Brand beat into second last start, Super Strike (Whyte) is the best banking option in the middle pin, a Class Four over the same trip.
Super Strike is probably better over further, but has still won at the course and distance, and last time showed the ability to sit a touch handier in the run before finishing off strongly.
Pace looks ensured with one-dimensional leader Ferrabosco plugging away, with Bullish Power, Telecom Supremo or Compact Yarn (Gerald Mosse) all a possibility of pestering the big grey in front.
Of them, include Compact Yarn, along with Kingston Spartacus (Richard Fourie), last-start winner Surrounded (Brett Prebble) and Burgundy Mac (Marwing).
In the opening leg, a Class Four over 1,400m, another good draw makes Supreme Genki (Chadwick) the best option as a stand-out. But there are enough completely out-of-form runners to play the elimination game so narrow it down to the remaining few genuine hopes and go in without a banker.
Maelstrom (Fourie) is probably better over 1,200m, but he'll position himself close in the run and can run a place. Barrier 14 will be a test for apprentice Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin on Matsukaze, but he should go in after three straight placings to start the term.
One to include down in the weights is Regal Army - dropping back from 1,800m which he found too tough to a more suitable journey. Alvin Ng Ka-chun's seven-pound claim drops him to 111 pounds.
- Racing 360 will preview the two Australian simulcasts of Victoria Derby Day and the Melbourne Cup. Jo McKinnon will be joined by Jason Tan and South China Morning Post's racing writer Michael Cox tonight and to help you find the winners. The show can be seen on ATV World at 11.20pm and Cable 18 and 203 at 5.45pm, Cable channel 64 and 204 at 7pm.
(2) Solar Great, (3) Speechmaker, (8) China Angel, (11) Perfect Hedge.
(2) Mega Castle, (8) Watch First, (11) Metrevelli, (12) Successful Era.
(3) Expedite, (6) Great Alexander, (7) Nightlign, (9) Tayside.
(4) Turbo Jewellery, (8) Matsukaze, (9) Young Talent, (13) Regal Army.
(1) Absolute Fantasy, (3) Kingston Spartacus, (7) Surrounded, (11) Clement Spirit.
(2) Taknam, (4) Hear The Roar, (7) Travel Brand, (8) Jamesina.
(3) Talley Close, (5) Bear Hero, (7) Nordic One, (9) Amber Sky.
(1) Happy Yeah Yeah, (2) Bundle Of Love, (3) Forever Joyful, (5) Ultimate Winners.
(3) Aerosa, (5) Holy Mac, (7) Galaxy Prancer, (8) Happy Era.
(1) Bubble Chic, (2) Same World, (4) Distill, (5) Aomen.