Rise in trip right up Flame Hero’s alley
With a mouthwatering HK$40 million on offer, Ho's up-and-coming gelding can take care of a below-par field in the final leg of the TT
Flame Hero has a record of one-from-two even though he has never gone past the post first in a race. He gets a golden chance to rectify that - finish first - and make it two-from-three in the final leg of the massive early-season Triple Trio at Sha Tin on Sunday.
At last weekend's season-opening meeting, the TT was loaded up with a jackpot but failed to go off, leaving punters playing with a pool already containing more than HK$26 million and promising to pay more than HK$40 million for each $10 invested on a winning ticket.
All three legs are Class Fours on Sunday and there doesn't seem to be many horses in any of them that are likely to climb much higher. Peter Ho Leung's Flame Hero could be the exception - the four-year-old son of Savabeel steps up to 1,400m and should have made the necessary off-season progression to take care of a below-par field.
The disqualification of Yat Ding Win for a feed contamination-caused positive swab in a Class Four straight race in June meant Flame Hero was elevated from second to first in the record books. Flame Hero was on debut, still three years old and put in an eye-catching effort to finish behind the provisional winner. He was out in the severely disadvantaged middle part of the straight course that day, and still rattled off a huge final sectional to come from the second half of the field.
The owners eventually got their prize money, but Flame Hero didn't get penalised for a win, remaining on his 52 rating. Next start Weichong Marwing, who rides again on Sunday , was able to take advantage of a low draw and push into the box seat at Happy Valley, and Flame Hero did everything right - except get past the post first; he was just nailed on the line by the talented Jade Christy.
A quiet lead-up trial didn't tell us much about Flame Hero, but the step up to 1,400m certainly look like a positive, in fact it looks made to order. In the straight race, Ben So Tik-hung was hard at work just to keep up through the fast-run middle section and the gelding was clicking through the gears late.
Gate six is a decent draw for a horse that appears to have some tactical ability. The speed will come from outside with Dashing Super, Cartoon Fay Fay may push up on the inside and there are a couple of others drawn outside Flame Hero that may be tempted to take a risk and scout forward.
Others to include are Electronic Fortune (Tye Angland), Thanksgiving (Douglas Whyte), Young Warrior (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) and Victory Ide Say (Karis Teetan) from gate one.
The opening leg is a hard-to-dissect dirt race over 1,200m containing some unreliable types. The four horses drawn lowest all look to have some sort of claim - Rising Power (Teetan), Excel Oneself (Matthew Chadwick), Easy Ahead (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) and Expedite (Zac Purton). Palepale (Marwing) was terrible last season and has internal issues, but he drops nine pounds, trialled fairly and has performed on the surface.
Go with Jack's Gem (Whyte) in the opening leg; he bounced out of Class Five with an authoritive win at the end of last season. He will still be carrying some residual fitness from that win and returns over a mile with a decent draw. Throw in Precision Era (Marwing), King Haradasun (Olivier Doleuze) and Panther Run (Alex Lai Hoi-wing).
(2) Santa Fe Sun, (4) Psychologist, (6) Delight Fortune, (11) Jun Hao.
(2) Happy Kaiser, (4) Smart Guy, (6) Southern Springs, (7) Epee De Hua.
(2) Pretty One, (4) D'or Wongchoy, (5) Mac Row, (13) Regency Champion.
(1) Carry The Zeal, (5) Expedite, (9) Hurry Hurry Up, (11) Easy Ahead.
(3) Shantaraam, (5) King Haradasun, (11) Jack's Gem, (12) Viva Guy.
(2) Electronic Fortune, (3) Sight Lover, (4) Dragon Glory, (7) Flame Hero.
(2) Penglai Xianzi, (3) Zaidan, (5) Irian, (10) Noble Alpha.
(2) Bould Mover, (3) Green Zone, (8) Turin Champion, (9) Spoken To Carlo.
(1) Bobo Dragon, (4) Real Supreme, (6) Dining World, (12) Tour De Force.
(1) Helene Fun Star, (4) Buddy Buddies, (5) Plentiful, (8) Hong Kong Dancer.
Read Michael Cox’s blog – The Sacred Kingdom of bike riding horse trainers