Punters will have to weigh up ability against the effect of the grandstand rail bias up the Sha Tin straight when assessing the chances of a bunch of talented newcomers in the middle leg of Sunday's Triple Trio, including Gary Ng Ting-keung's high-profile first starter Longwah Amber.

The safe play might be to go without a banker in the 18 Districts Cup (Class Four) - five selections and narrow things down elsewhere - but on the score of ability and potential, Longwah Amber (Eddy Lai Wai-ming) looks a cut above Class Four.

The three-year-old has not been fully tested, but he has been impressive enough and it is clear he has an engine
Michael Cox 

The striking chestnut son of dual-hemisphere super sire Exceed And Excel sold for HK$7.5 million at last December's Hong Kong International Sale, so all eyes have been on him as he has been unleashed in a couple of trials.

The three-year-old has not been fully tested, but he has been impressive enough and it is clear he has an engine.

Some slightly puzzling gaps in trackwork aside, his natural ability should ensure he is competitive first time out.

Gate three is the query and whether the horse's relative inexperience finds him out.

Lai will have to bustle the big gelding to get across into better ground, but he will have some company and maybe even something to follow as he hunts across.

Three of the top chances have drawn in the inside four gates - away from the advantageous fast lane next to the outside, and in the quicksand of the centre part of the track.

Nevertheless, the in-form and in shape Real Fit (Matthew Chadwick) cannot be left out from gate one after a string of solid efforts over the course and distance - a second from a similar gate to Gorgeous Debut among them.

Regency Ho Ho (Gerald Mosse) would be favourite if drawn better.

The Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained three-year-old was a standout in his trials and has been second at his only two race starts, but he is burdened with gate four.

Getting softer runs near the outside will be a couple of newcomers fresh from decent trials - Danny Shum Chap-shing's Trendiful (Joao Moreira) and Manfred Man's Ka-leung's King Brother (Zac Purton).

The fact the two 52-raters attracted the services of the top two jockeys tells you something, and from gates 12 and nine, respectively, they will not have to work as hard early as those drawn low.

Race programmers have made life difficult by picking an 1,800m Class Five as the first leg of the TT.

Yung's last-start winner and top weight Natural Champion (Brett Prebble) will have support, but beware a few knockout hopes lower down in the weights, as well as a couple of reasonably consistent types that have drifted into the lowest grade.

Lowly rated pair Public Figure (Karis Teetan) and Infinite Courage (Chadwick) have been racing well. Also include Mobile King (Mosse) and Optimization Star (Purton).

The final leg is an open Class Four over 1,400m, where John Moore's Kynam goes in as banker, with Moreira getting back aboard.

Also include Jun Ju (Alvin Ng Ka-chun), Spurs On (Karis Teetan) and Super Team (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu).

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