Numero Uno to be number one at last in Triple Trio
Benno Yung's luckless galloper isn't far from a win, and with Zac Purton staying on board, he gets his chance in the middle leg from the coveted inside draw
He keeps creeping up the ratings without winning, but Numero Uno drawing barrier number one is a great sign in more ways than one in the middle leg of Saturday's Triple Trio at Sha Tin.
Narrowly beaten at his last two starts, the Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained four-year-old can get all the favours in the Macau-Taipa Bridge Handicap (1,400m) and haul top weight to victory.
Last start Zac Purton gave Numero Uno a peach of a ride as 1.9 favourite, only for Lucky Bonus and Tye Angland to produce a freakish effort - scooting wide after missing the start by eight lengths, and swooping on a day from which form should be treated with extreme caution. Numero Uno's defeat came in the second turf race of the day, after which it became apparent that getting wide at all costs in the straight was absolutely essential.
Two starts back, Numero Uno was also narrowly defeated, failing by a nose to beat Mighty Equus.
The two narrow defeats mean that the still winless Numero Uno carries 131 pounds at his third start in Class Four - somewhat of a concern, especially with a couple on the rise below him on the weight scale. The draw and likely box seat run, combined with enough pace to allow Numero Uno to relax better in running, should see him break his maiden, or at least go very close again. Numero Uno has travelled a touch too keenly in his races, and hopefully the extra race experience has told and he will drop his head.
Chris So Wai-yin's Eternal Gains (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) should appreciate sheepskin cheek pieces going on, but a bad draw has hampered his chances. Put him in, along with Andreas Schutz's last start winner Oscar Miracle (Andreas Suborics). Others to consider are Champion Ranger (Tye Angland) and Croatia (Olivier Doleuze).
The final leg is the Association of Hong Kong Racing Journalists Challenge Cup (Class Three, 1,600m) and this time it is Yung's former boss John Size with a horse that has raced consistently without winning this season, and dropping into gate one, who looms as the best banker.
Red Dancer (Karis Teetan) went up seven points when he won off 68 last season, but since then has edged up to the brink of Class Two with a series of placings. This season Red Dancer has placed on six of 10 occasions, and last start raced wide before finishing third behind runaway winner Flame Hero on the same diabolical day where the swoopers came from everywhere at Sha Tin. Before that he was second to Flame Hero, beaten just two lengths when giving 15 pounds to what looks a horse bound for triple figures, and beating home subsequent winner Wayfoong Express.
Michael Chang Chun-wai's Boy Oh Boy (Douglas Whyte) seemed to turn a corner last start and a trial since then was another step in the right direction.
Victory Hero (Angland), Glorious Ryder (Olivier Doleuze) and Supreme Falcon (Prebble) are next in, and it is a steep drop off to the rest.
In the opening leg, the Friendship Bridge Handicap (Class Four, 1,200m), Dennis Yip Chor-hong's Good Good View (Angland) is the best banker after a last start run where he was in front before and just after the line. He meets the horse that beat him a nose - Circuit Fortune (Gerald Mosse) - three pounds better off than last time and has an edge at the draw too.
Circuit Fortune goes in, as do Yo-Yo Da (Suborics), who is screaming out for a better draw but didn't get one here, World City (Whyte) and Gideon (Purton), who didn't appreciate the extreme pace of a 1,000m race last start and will be better suited here over 1,200m.