Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s four-year-old Molly’s Jade Star steps up in distance at Sha Tin on Sunday looking to end a frustrating sequence of second placings and he seems an ideal banker in the final leg of what looks a fun Triple Trio.
After three runs as a three-year-old, Molly’s Jade Star has been runner-up in five of his six starts this term, including the last four on the bounce over 1,200m.
Yiu had planned to run the chestnut over 1,400m second-up this term, but lameness intervened, and nearly five months later Molly’s Jade Star finally gets a chance to compete at a distance that looks far more suitable.
Joao Moreira rides for the third straight start and this time gets a slightly better draw – eight – after being lumbered with wide gates on both occasions.
Two starts back on a freezing January day, Moreira tried to put Molly’s Jade Star handier from gate 10, got stuck wide with no cover and was only just edged out on the line by Socket King. Then three weeks ago, Molly’s Jade Star really put the writing on the wall, if it wasn’t already, with a fast-closing effort behind promising youngster Momentum Lucky.
Momentum Lucky had the luxury of a box-seat run in the race, while Moreira surrendered position at the start and made his run from last in a race where it was hard to make up ground. Adding some confidence is that sixth-placed Victor Emperor won on Wednesday at Happy Valley.
There doesn’t look to be a lot of speed and therefore Moreira isn’t likely to be anywhere near as far back this time, but whatever scenario unfolds it should only take even luck for Molly’s Jade Star to figure prominently.
From there include Team Sweet (Douglas Whyte), who drops down to a much better draw, Bulb Master (Nash Rawiller) and Energetic Class (Leonardo Salles).
The first leg is a Class Three 1,200m which provides a clash between two smart three-year-olds: John Size-trained My Darling (Moreira) and Paul O’Sullivan’s Kiwi import Lamarosa (Rawiller).
My Darling’s solid debut performance up the straight at Sha Tin was probably overshadowed a touch by his stablemate Mr Stunning’s scintillating first-up display three days earlier, but it was a win that indicated plenty more was in store and he should maintain an unbeaten record here.
After the victory Brett Prebble, who replaced the injured Moreira, said My Darling would relish getting over more ground and it was clear that the son of Mossman has a lot to learn.
O’Sullivan isn’t known for his first-up winners, whether they be unraced or private purchases, but in the last week he has had one of both with Washington Heights winning in Class Three and Moment Of Power doing a good job to scratch out a rare win for a debutant over the Valley’s 1,000m course.
Now O’Sullivan sends out Lamarosa, who won three from four as a two-year-old in New Zealand, the only defeat a battling fifth as favourite at Listed level when stretched to a mile at his third start.
The son of Postponed has trialled well in the lead-up, the last of three trials for O’Sullivan an all-the-way effort at the Valley, and he has come up with an ideal draw from where Rawiller should be able to find an ideal spot for a horse that should race handy.
Take My Darling as banker just ahead Lamarosa, but don’t be afraid to play the pair as double bankers, ahead of Jolly Banner (Purton), Tonyboy (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) and Verbinsky (Matthew Chadwick), an Irish-bred import out of Italy with a two from four record and decent enough lead-up trials.
There is the option of a double banker in the middle leg as well, with David Hall-trained Solar Hei Hei (Prebble) and O’Sullivan’s Who Else But You (Moreira) the standouts in a 1,200m Class Three.
Also include Sky King (Purton), Sensation (Chad Schofield) and Our Folks (Karis Teetan).