O'Halo looks the one to beat in Class Four
A drop in grade, Whyte taking over the ride and a return to the dirt make Size's sprinter a tough nut to crack in the opening leg of the TT
Three common denominators link O'Halo's two wins - Class Four, Sha Tin's all-weather track and jockey Douglas Whyte.
Tomorrow night the John Size-trained four-year-old gets his own magic trio of factors, plus the benefit of barrier one, and can lead off in the opening leg of the Triple Trio as a banker.
O'Halo isn't the sort of Size horse that makes a procession through from Class Four with a series of effortless wins, in fact it took him a season-and-a-half to climb up from where he started and into Class Three - where he promptly hit a wall and has quickly regressed back into Class Four.
A third on the dirt first try in Class Three, followed by three unplaced efforts at Happy Valley are enough to suggest O'Halo is at least a few points better on the dirt.
Those three unplaced runs have O'Halo back to where he is more comfortable - the top of Class Four and the drop in grade has coincided with Whyte hopping back on board. O'Halo has hit the frame seven out of 10 times over the course and distance, both wins coming at 1,200m.
Gate one is a huge plus on a track that can be unpredictable at the best of times and particularly at night, but more often favours those near the rail and in the front third of the field.
Quantum Power (Olivier Doleuze) is another dropping into a grade where he is more effective - the blinkers go back on but it is barrier four that makes him a threat.
Another to include is Red Lucky Star (Jackie Tong Chi-kit), who has been transferred from Almond Lee to Michael Chang Chun-wai after 24 fruitless runs for his former stable. Chang has taken all of the headgear off and gone to a tongue-tie for a first-up run and a forward trial adds some confidence. Barrier two means he will not have to burn much fuel to take up a prominent position.
Outside of that top three and perhaps Jade Pippo (Derek Leung Ka-chun), the placegetters could come from anywhere.
The second leg is a tough Class Three with not much in the way of exposed dirt track ability to base an assessment.
On potential ability and barrier draw, Tony Cruz's Magnumous (Matthew Chadwick) and John Moore's Rewarding Hero (Weichong Marwing) - from gate three and four - go in. Take one as a banker.
Smiling Watch (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) has never quite lived up to his appearance or Hong Kong International Sale price tag, but with 117 pounds in the bottom of Class Three he will be hard to beat. Francis Lui Kin-wai has gone to blinkers for the first time to coincide with the five-year-old's first run on the surface, but barrier 10 make him a risky proposition as a banker.
Happy Forever (Doleuze) is the other not to leave out from barrier two.
Four horses jump out from the Class Four final leg and all of them in form and proven on the surface - Dars Auto (Tim Clark), Chater D'Cat (Whyte), Invictus (Marwing) and Flying China (Brett Prebble). Go with the flat four, rather than stand one runner out.
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