Sticking with Divine Ten not the path to Triple Trio jackpot
Me Tsui's sprinter will start favourite in the final leg with Joao Moreira booked, but an inside draw down the straight may prove his downfall
Divine Ten is the logical favourite in the final leg of a jackpot-boosted Triple Trio at Sunday's Chinese New Year meeting, but a bad draw means looking elsewhere for a banker is the way to go.
The TT will be bolstered with a $28 million jackpot, and while many will be pencilling in Me Tsui Yu-sak's smart sprinter after his desperately unlucky last start third, drawing gate three on the straight course against a strong field makes him a risk.
The grandstand side rail bias has become so bad that those drawn in the centre of the track face a near impossible task to get across into the necessary forward position. This is the predicament facing Divine Ten's new jockey Joao Moreira, who replaces Zac Purton after Tsui was unhappy with the Australian's handling of his horse last time out.
After winning two-from-two up the straight on the son of Holy Roman Emperor, Purton was left stuck for a run and finished third behind Tango Fire and one of his rivals today, Pure Force, much to the chagrin of those who took the 1.4.
This time he goes up three pounds in a field with some in-form runners, who look suited to the specialist course and have been blessed at the barrier draw.
Choose between Tony Cruz-trained Peniaphobia (Matthew Chadwick) and Francis Lui Kin-wai's Pure Force (Tye Angland) as banker.
There is a world of difference between drawing barrier 11 at Happy Valley and barrier 11 up the Sha Tin straight course - and that is the situation facing Peniaphobia. The three-year-old won three from four in England, tried only over the five-furlong journey and importantly on tracks rated good to firm, with the final two wins on straight courses.
It was obvious from his overseas displays that Peniaphobia was blessed with speed, but on his local debut he showed a fair dose of courage, too, sitting deep and finding plenty in the finish for third behind Braveness.
Angland will claim one pound over on Pure Force, but he will still only carry 120 pounds and drew the plum position of gate 14. Pure Force has not produced a bad run this term, notching two wins and two seconds from four starts - all over this trip - and last time out was a strong, short-head second to Tango Fire.
He does meet Divine Ten one pound worse off at the weights, but what is the value of drawing tight against the outside fence?
Include Benno Yung Tin-pang's first starter My Little Friend (Gerald Mosse), who is drawn nicely in nine from where he can tuck in just behind the speed.
After winning a New Zealand maiden on raw ability, the four-year-old has progressed nicely through four trials, although he has not been anywhere near tested.
Drawn 12, Danny Shum Chap-shing's Art Of Success (Douglas Whyte) has to go in, as he was a smart winner over this course and distance two starts back before making a complete mess of the turn in the Griffin Trophy.
Getting through the Class Five opening leg will be tough, especially given some of the top chances drew dud gates with the rail in the "C" configuration. Banking Andreas Schutz-trained Magical Beam (Angland) could pay off after he drew three, just ahead of Man And Ming (Olivier Doleuze) from gate two.
Goldweaver has the best form, but Mosse will probably need to find the lead and rail from gate 13 to have any chance.
Robust Momentum (Jacky Tong Chi-kit) goes in with the drop in grade and Caspar Fownes applying blinkers for the first time. Young Warrior (Moreira) steps back up to 1,400m - which looks his best trip - but drew horrendously out in 14.
The middle leg is not much easier, a Class Four over 1,400m containing a mostly out-of-form group.
Amazing Always (Karis Teetan) has raced consistently this term, with the impression there is at least enough improvement to win in this grade, and is an option for banker.
Others to consider are Oscar Miracle (Andreas Suborics), Cultural City (Whyte) and Silver Dragon (Derek Leung Ka-chun).