Double banker key to Triple Trio jackpot
Frederick Engels and The Peak can cap a good afternoon for punters, who should rely on the best-drawn foreign raiders in the other two legs
Not only does the Triple Trio contain the once-a-season luxury of two International Group Ones, but the Class Two anchor leg is also full of quality and two of this season's most progressive-looking sprinters can act as a double-banker option in chasing the jackpot-boosted prize.
Frederick Engels and The Peak took very different paths to get to Hong Kong, but have both taken a step up this season. The pair have won two straight and find themselves on a collision course in a TT bolstered by a HK$800,000 carryover and made more appealing by the inclusion of the Longines Hong Kong Sprint and Vase as the opening two legs.
John Moore purchased Frederick Engels as one of the most impressive two-year-olds in England two summers ago - the son of Iceman had won the July Stakes - but as with many northern hemisphere imports, he failed to show his best in a troubled first season when he was unplaced in five runs.
He has hit the ground running this term, settling better and breaking through at Happy Valley before a strong all-weather track performance last start. And there's no reason why he can't transfer his form to Sha Tin over 1,200m, especially from a decent gate in five.
From the opposite end of the import spectrum to Moore's expensive acquisition, is The Peak - a home-bred owned by the son of famous Australian-based Malaysian businessman Dato Tan Chin Nam.
There wasn't huge expectations of The Peak when he arrived with John Size, even after he won his first three starts. His regular jockey Douglas Whyte lamented the fact the competitive gelding "wasn't a hand taller". The Peak has continued to punch above his weight though, and his progression has matched that of Frederick Engels - he, too, resumed unplaced, albeit when stuck wide - and has bounced back with two fantastic course and distance victories.
The Peak showed tremendous gate speed to spring from barrier 13 and lead last start, then control the race, and there's little doubt Whyte will attempt the same thing again from gate eight.
Playing a double-banker allows some more numbers on your ticket, and other options include Silver Osmanthus (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) and El Zonda (Matthew Chadwick). Two with ability you'll need to forgive for below-par recent efforts are Mentor (Ben So Tik-hung) and Fionn's Treasure (Alex Lai Hoi-wing).
Don't get sucked in by the talented but troubled Straight Gold's looks, as he is yet to prove he get can around a bend, and still wanted to race erratically in a recent trial.
The opening leg is about the only time you'll see a 2,400m race with less than a full field as part of the TT, but the Longines Hong Kong Vase must be considered one of the strongest ever.
The race doesn't have the usual pace concerns of a local staying race, with the inclusion of Dancing Rain and Liberator drawn in the middle, and that pair looking likely to cut out the running in front. For a solid banker lean on the locally owned Red Cadeaux (Gerald Mosse). His finishing burst in the Japan Cup was cut short by interference but he seemed to be building up steam.
Last year's winner Dunaden (Craig Williams) maps to get the same run as 2011 and has to be included, even though there is some doubt over his form, trackwork and appearance.
Meandre (Maxim Guyon) is a tough customer, and form behind Orfevre and a win over quality mares Shereta, Gallikova and Danedream, stacks up well for this. Sea Moon (Ryan Moore) can't be left out, and perhaps Bayrir (Christophe Lemaire) is a place option after drawing one.
Lucky Nine is looking to repeat in the Hong Kong Sprint and has to be on your ticket, but drawing 12 would test the nerves as a banker. He is as tough as they come, but even then he will need luck. Perhaps the other obvious pick, Sea Siren (Jim Cassidy), creates more appeal as a standout.
Drawn seven, she will be pushed into the firing line and her masculine appearance gives the impression she is ready for a war. The value in the race is Captain Sweet (James McDonald), provided he has cleared his recent respiratory issues.
An ideal draw (three) also gives Time After Time (Whyte) his chance if he is good enough. First-up after nearly six months, nine-year-old Joy And Fun (Mosse) is difficult to get a gauge on - but his best is good enough and he has drawn one.
RACE 1: (1) Little Cow, (4) Solar Great, (6) Affluence Of Rain, (10) Power Blitz.
RACE 2: (4) All Round, (6) Eastern Promise, (8) Holyangelholy, (11) Calling With Love.
RACE 3: (1) Real Generous, (3) Taknam, (9) Turbo Jewellery, (11) Grand Elite.
RACE 4: (2) Dunaden, (5) Joshua Tree, (7) Dandino, (9) Liberator.
RACE 5: (1) Lucky Nine, (7) Time After Time, (9) Cerise Cherry, (10) Flying Blue.
RACE 6: (2) Frederick Engels, (3) Rich Tapestry, (4) The Peak, (6) Talley Close.
RACE 7: (2) Xtension, (3) Glorious Days, (7) Pure Champion, (10) Packing Whiz.
RACE 8: (1) Cirrus Des Aigles, (5) Sweet Orange, (6) Irian, (12) Autumn Gold.
RACE 9: (1) Real Specialist, (5) Helene Spirit, (10) Fulfil A Wish, (11) New Vision.
RACE 10: (3) Wah May Star, (5) It Has To Be You, (6) Rainbow Chic, (9) Victory Master.
Read Michael Cox's blog - Tips on getting to grips with Hong Kong racing. Go to: http://www.scmp.com/author/michael-cox-0