Rewarding Hero set to dazzle on debut
Punters chasing the huge TT jackpot will need to survive a tough first leg, but should find it easier in the remaining two pins to pinch the prize
Sha Tin's New Year's Day meeting has brought with it plenty of new horses, and one of the best of them appears to be John Moore's northern hemisphere youngster Rewarding Hero, who has drawn one on day one of his career.
While unraced Europeans seem to find it more difficult than their southern hemisphere counterparts first-up, Rewarding Hero will debut in a race full of unraced and inexperienced rivals, and looks a safe bet as a banker in the middle leg of the Triple Trio.
Barrier one is a huge advantage for Rewarding Hero and, from there, Brett Prebble can watch the Class Four (1,200m) race unfold, with speed obviously somewhat of a mystery. The three-year-old - turning four on raceday - is likely to be held up, from what he has shown in his trials.
Three trials, with improvement shown in each, culminating in an eye-catching effort last time at Sha Tin would have had Rewarding Hero in the market wherever he kicked off.
With no horse rated higher than 57, Rewarding Hero has to carry 133 pounds, but of the horses he is giving weight to, none has shown a lot as yet.
Rewarding Hero faces a field of four first starters, five horses who have had one start, one with two starts and two horses with four starts to their names.
Illustrating the field's lack of experience is that Heartland (Zac Purton) has had more starts (17) than his 13 rivals combined (15). On that score alone, he should be considered. Best of the rest is Caspar Fownes' Highest Acclaim (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu), who seemed to click last start when getting home late over 1,000m at Happy Valley. He has also drawn well in four and the extra 200m will be more to his liking.
Had David Hall's Berlinski (Weichong Marwing) drawn better than 13, he would be in the reckoning after a nice trial at the Valley that would have brought him on. John Size's Sight Lover (Douglas Whyte) led and won a recent Valley trial - the horse's fifth trial overall - and the "Dream Team" factor make him hard to ignore.
Tuesday's TT is loaded with a HK$19 million jackpot, creating an estimated dividend of HK$29 million - but to get a slice of the pie, punters need to negotiate a perilous first leg over 1,800m.
Full Value (Gerald Mosse) seems a safe standout, and has been consistent enough to take as a banker. Mr Marfach (Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin) has fallen into Class Five for the first time, and with Peter Ho Leung's move to apply the blinkers and Lui's 10-pound claim, he's certainly a chance.
Also include Sunny Sky (Whyte), Sabina (Richard Fourie) and Rain Of Thunder (Purton).
Punters have given Why Not (Purton) plenty of chances, but the Class Four final leg over 1,400m could be his moment. Barrier seven isn't too bad and third-up, at what seems his best distance, creates some appeal. Others to consider are Tarrega (Ben So Tik-hung), Glacier Blue (Olivier Doleuze) and Always Well (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu).
(5) Divine Diya, (6) Dr Good Habit, (7) Good Good View, (11) Forza.
(4) Island Spring, (5) Alp's Glory, (6) Bamboo Dance, (14) Newswire Too.
(3) The Only Kid, (6) Mark Two, (9) Forever Ahead, (10) Empire City.
(3) Loving Star, (7) Let's Goal, (8) Turbo Jewellery, (10) Towering Storm.
(2) Mr Marfach, (3) Rain Of Thunder, (7) Medic Champion, (8) Solar Wonder.
(1) Rewarding Hero, (2) Highest Acclaim, (3) Berlinski, (8) Sight Lover.
(3) Sammy's Falcon, (5) Glacier Blue, (8) Keep-A-Pin, (12) Spectacular Award.
(6) Uwillbeglorious, (8) Alpha Grand, (9) Dashing Fortune, (12) Spirit Soaring.
(2) Sunny Fay, (10) Red Courage, (11) Fay Deep, (12) Keen Tactics.
(1) Packing Ok, (3) Real Specialist, (8) Flying Blue, (10) Helene Spirit.
(1) Fat Choy Oohlala, (2) Bubble Chic, (5) Chater Dream, (12) Gold-Fun.