Trainer Peter Ho Leung seems to have a knack with graduates from the Hong Kong International Sale and star ISG Mr Right can continue his progression in the middle leg of tomorrow night’s Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
Leading Horse and Unbeatable Guts are two other International Sale Griffins Ho has produced for wins this term and Mr Right, a horse purchased by the Jockey Club three years ago at the Magic Millions and resold for HK$3.7 million at the March 2014 sale, has already won twice.
That purchase price was considered a bargain by some for the most physically developed, or at least biggest, horse in the sale, but Mr Right was still a raw talent and was unplaced in three runs up the straight as a three-year-old at the end of last season.
With a ratings drop down to 46 to start this term, Ho then tried the dirt with the son of American sire Statue Of Liberty first-up, where he wilted under heavy pressure out in front, before a switch to Happy Valley second-up brought about immediate joy and a glimpse of the horse’s potential.
Mr Right did well to withstand pressure for the lead early and kicked late, before he went back to the dirt and was close up in fourth after Ben So Tik-hung set the four-year-old a tough ask in front with a sub-22 second middle section in front.
Back at the city track and drawn the services of South African rider Gavin Lerena on Longines International Jockeys’ Championship night, Mr Right did it the hard way when he worked hard in a speed battle early, sat very wide without cover and still managed to hang on for a resilient victory.
Mr Right – who is rated 56 despite his two wins – returns over the same 1,000m course, with in-form jockey Chad Schofield aboard and also a lovely draw, from where finding a nice position shouldn’t be an issue.
Whether Schofield wants to again try and battle for the lead from barrier four remains to be seen, with a few obvious candidates likely to have designs on doing the same and he may be better served allowing others to fight among themselves and settling for a box-seat run.
Looking a main danger and a possible double banker option is Dancing Flames (Derek Leung Ka-chun), an impressive enough griffin winner from earlier in the term who didn’t handle a bend second-up and worked too hard from a tough draw up the straight last start.
Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing has gone to the blinkers, although going off his trial, the headgear didn’t seem to do much for a horse that seemed pretty genuine anyway, and his previous trial, around a bend at the Valley, is more significant. That day, Dancing Flames tagged top sprinter Rad, and although well held to the line, it was the way Shum’s horse assuredly handled the turn that mattered.
St Yazin (Gregory Benoist) is there again, with another good run under his belt since his short-head defeat on IJC night and meeting his rival three pounds better.
From that same race take King Of Household (Vincent Cheminaud) from a much better draw, and also add in Back In Black (Karis Teetan).
A high quality Class Five handicap might seem an oxymoron, but the opening leg of the TT over 1,650m is as close as you can get. Last start Class Five winners are usually poison, but two of the three here, Southchina Command (Benoist) and Yeung Sing (Brett Prebble), should be right in it despite going up in the weights.
Include that pair, but as banker take Mr Vanilla (Neil Callan) from Oxford Charley (Silvestre de Sousa).
In the final leg, a Class Three over 1,200m, Forever Red (Cheminaud) needs to absorb what seems a harsh reassessment after a confidence-boosting win last start but he can run another big race.
From there, take Red Kylin (Teetan), All Win Boy (Alex Lai Hoi-wing), Grace Heart (Callan) and Glorious Avenue (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu).