Cultural City has been plagued by bad barriers lately, but dropping to a low draw on a surface he flies on and the booking of Douglas Whyte to ride, make the John Moore-trained gelding the best banker in tomorrow's Triple Trio at Sha Tin.
A son of renowned dirt track sire Elusive City, Cultural City is none from nine in Hong Kong but hasn't been far away at his last two starts despite having his hand forced tactically.
Weichong Marwing has been aboard at Cultural City's last two starts and has ended up having to produce long sprints from the tail, but he has shown early speed before over shorter trips and can take advantage of a low draw.
First he was nailed by an upset winner and rival in Eagle Power (Eddie Lai Wai-ming) two starts back. The two horses switch barriers - two and 13 - and Cultural City meets Eagle Power a pound better at the weights. Since then Cultural City stepped up to 1,800m and produced an even better effort, although those who took the even money might have been left a touch disillusioned. The four-year-old was third behind Xilai Xianzi, but had been shuffled back to last at the point of the turn and was blocked for a run in the straight.
Drawn inside the banker is Horse Aplenty (Tim Clark) and he goes in, along with Winning Boy (Richard Fourie) and Mega Champion (Matthew Chadwick).
In the opening leg, Richard Gibson has gone to blinkers with T-Bolt (Olivier Doleuze), who has drawn four and seems ready to break through in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy.
Last start, the three-year-old's third over the same course and distance as tomorrow - T-Bolt couldn't quite run down Supreme Genki, who had been given a soft run in front.
The blinkers should help him stay switched on in the run, but it is a race where there could be speed and switching off might not be a bad thing. Apollo Cavalier (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) is likely to come across from gate seven and lead. What could create pressure are a trio of horse drawn wide that could come forward looking for a spot up front: Double Dragon, Multiexpress and City Delight. If there is pace it will suit John Size-trained Forever Ahead (Whyte), who was a victim of a bad barrier and left too much to do last start. He is an option as a double banker if looking for one.
Plain Red Banner (Jackie Tong Chi-kit) is an interesting runner backing up from Wednesday night, when he was slow to muster speed at the start, but got to the line well. He is a horse with some upside and should be included from a decent draw.
After dropping into Class Five, Dars Auto (Clark) strung together five straight placings - two of them wins and he is the best banking option in the middle leg, a Class Four (60-35) over 1,800m on the dirt.
He had to chase a hot speed last start and was third behind Invictus over 1,650m - stepping up to a more suitable 1,800m is what he needs and he has drawn three.
Chater D'Cat (Whyte) has won four times on the dirt and is drawn one. It's tough to find anything else reliable but beware a couple of old stagers who have been known to produce a run on the surface: Healthy Blueberry (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) and Ole Ole (Keith Yeung Ming-lun).
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