Class Four stayers to maintain rivalry in the middle leg of the Triple Trio
Hei Hei Posh and Super Strike have been hard to separate all season, and they can be a double banker as they clash for the fifth time this term
In November, Hei Hei Posh and Super Strike fought out a titanic battle in the gripping final stages of a 2,200m Class Four. Last start, they could barely be separated again, and the same pair can slot in as a double banker in the middle leg of Wednesday night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
In fact, the two horses cannot seem to get away from each other this season - in three of their four clashes, they have been separated by a short head or less.
There are only a limited number of 2,200m races each season, and for these two stayers events like the So Kon Po Handicap represent golden opportunities to add to their win tallies.
Danny Shum Chap-shing's Hei Hei Posh prevailed back on November 27, notching his first win over the distance after three previous successes at 1,800m. He has maintained solid form since, placing in three of his last four starts - the backmarker disadvantaged by race tempo at times, and looking more and more like 2,200m is his best trip these days.
It has been well established that it is a case of "the farther, the better" for Andreas Schutz-trained Super Strike for a while now - in seven tries over 2,200m he has won twice and filled a top three spot five times.
Last start, over 1,800m three weeks ago, both horses were back in the field and thus were severely disadvantaged by slow sectionals from the 1,200m to the 400m, resulting in both being forced to make early and wide runs.
At the finish, they were separated by the slimmest of margins, with Super Strike just ahead, but both a neck behind winner Oxford Charley.
The late November clash between the duo was not only over the same course and distance as Wednesday's race, but the rail was also in the "C + 3" position and the horses were carrying the same jockeys. Zac Purton prevailed that time on Hei Hei Posh and he gets back on here, while Super Strike's regular rider Tye Angland sticks with the seven-year-old on whom he has won four times and finished second a further four times.
It is the same story for both horses - they need speed in the contest, particularly Super Strike, and that is the biggest concern for the two bankers. Back the smarts of the Australian jockeys to get moving when they have to, in what could be a messy affair.
Next in, and an intriguing runner, is David Hall-trained Mr Marfach (Ben So Tik-hung) on the seven day back-up. The seven-year-old won for the first time in more than two years when he triumphed over 1,800m last week. He was never completely out of form in that time, his previous victory was over the course and distance and the "Class Fiver" gets in with a featherweight under the 60-35 extended ratings band conditions. Also include Yuan's Fortune (Eddy Lai Wai-ming) after a series of surprising efforts on the Sha Tin turf, albeit in Class Five - he had previously looked better at Happy Valley.
The opening leg is a tricky Class Four Handicap where a terrible barrier draw dealt potential banker Red Courage (Karis Teetan) a blow. Given the weak field, take four horses and hope to survive.
John Size-trained Red Courage has generally raced handy and his best performances have come when placed right on the speed, but with on-pace runners drawn low in the form of Well Done (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) and Tomodachi (So), Teetan faces a conundrum from gate 10 on what to do at the start.
Wherever he is placed in the run, Red Courage is racing consistently enough to figure anyway, and looks on an upward trajectory with scope to progress off a "debutant" mark of 52.
If a Size-trained 52-rater appeared in this weak race with a few decent trials he would have plenty of support, so an in-form and experienced horse like Red Courage should too.
Include Well Done and Tomodachi - if they do not cut into each other they will be hard to run down, both coming off runner-up efforts over the course and distance. Last start winner Speedygonzalez (Purton) and Happy Homing (Douglas Whyte) are the other options.
The final leg Class Four and feature race, the Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Challenge Cup over 1,650m, is by far the hardest to decipher, but at last the pace looks obvious and there seems a decent banker.
Some genuine sectionals should help Twin Turbo (Angland) - take him on top - and include Hinyuen Paladin (Alvin Ng Ka-chun), Full Of Fun (Alex Lai Hoi-wing), Ho Wongchoy (Teetan) and Plain Red Banner (Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin).