The John Moore-trained Rewarding Hero still has plenty to learn and, from a good draw, he can absorb a hike in the handicaps and salute as a banker in the final leg of the Triple Trio at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Rewarding Hero copped six points for his last-start course and distance (1,400m) victory, where he won by a head, but wandered after hitting the front. Douglas Whyte had his hands full on Rewarding Hero, making adjustments to keep him going straight, and any sort of improvement in the areas of focus and confidence will make him hard to beat against a similar looking field. The three-year-old won his first start over 1,200m, but a blood abnormality seemed to cause a mid-season dip in form. The last three starts, capped by the Class Three win with 118 pounds three weeks ago, have been solid. First came a typically green third to Gallant Triumph where Rewarding Hero wanted to duck away from horses and stopped when about to kick clear, and after that a fourth to Bobo Dragon after sitting wide and chasing around the circle without any real cover.
At start nine, Rewarding Hero should be a fully formed competitor and if the timidity is out of his game he should collect at least another Class Three win.
It's a reasonably deep race, albeit without any obvious candidates to go rocketing into the higher grades; Metallic Star (Zac Purton), Formula Won (Tommy Berry), B Choice (Matthew Chadwick) and Dynamic Voyage (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) are the others to throw in.
The opening leg, a 1,200m Class Four, is the most competitive race of the TT, and the toughest horse to assess is the one likely to start close to favourite: Graceful Kingdom (Berry) with blinkers going on at start three.
Graceful Kingdom was runner-up to Bobo Dragon on debut, about as strong Class Four form as you can get, and was subsequently sent around 2.8 favourite.
Berry had the three-year-old in a perfect spot, but he was nearly flattened at the furlong and eased out of the race. It's a total forgive run, but Graceful Kingdom wasn't making much headway before the incident, and was hanging a touch as well. Trust that the shades will bring about some sharpness.
K-Moochi (Terry Wong Chi-wai) will lead from gate four, and while he has won three from his last four, there might still be something left. Throw him in with Happy Ceramibo (Whyte), who drops in grade and is the type of horse that can make the most of drawing one. It's a race deep with chances: Dining Star (Purton), Golden Addiction (Tye Angland) and Multiexpress (Chadwick) could all easily figure.
In the middle leg, take Khaya (Whyte) as a banker with the step up to 1,800m coming at the right time. Blinkers will help Malayan Pearl (Chadwick), and lock him in as a double banker. After that there's not much to count on, although Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin's claim could be helpful to Sweet Corner. Include Win Along (Andreas Suborics) and Precision Era (Weichong Marwing), who drops back in trip, with gate one and a change from side winkers to visors.
(2) Mighty Equus, (10) Telecom Top Star, (12) Golden Legend, (13) Treasure Man.
Sichuan Exec, (6) Racing Reward, (9) Sky Idea, (11) Tarrega.
(2) Triumphant Way, (3) Bamboo Dance, (8) Jack’s Gem, (13) All My Kingdom.
(3) Keen Tactics, (4) Thanksgiving, (12) Victory Ide Say, (14) Great Pegasus.
(3) Psychologist, (6) Dining Star, (8) Graceful Kingdom, (10) Overdrive.
(2) Real Dragon, (3) Full Value, (5) Malayan Pearl, (7) Khaya.
(4) First Sight Love, (7) Formula Won, (10) St Yazin, (13) Legend Express.
(3) My Favorite, (5) Moneymaker, (12) Access Years, (14) Golden Chopsticks.
(1) Zaidan, (4) Rainbow Chic, (8) Happy Era, (10) Designs On Rome.
(6) King’s Folks, (7) Principal, (10) Todos Con Suerte, (13) Calling With Love.
(2) Solar Great, (4) Secret Sham, (5) Sea Diamond, (6) All You Wish.
Read Michael Cox’s blog – All hands and hooves on deck as pushbikes and pets thrown into the fray.