Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Po Ching Treasure only just missed out last start in Class Four and he looks to have an ideal opportunity for a local breakthrough tomorrow night at Happy Valley in a race where jockey Zac Purton can control the tempo.
Taking a horse with a local record of zero-from-22 as a banker in any race is perhaps cause for concern, but with Purton’s tactical nous on a fit and in-form five-year-old, Po Ching Treasure does look the one to beat in the middle leg of the Triple Trio.
Po Ching Treasure arrived with some placings in weak stakes races in Australia and couldn’t handle Class Two, and despite a couple of encouraging displays in Class Three, it was a drop into Class Four last start that seemed to bring the son of Stratum right into contention.
Ryan Moore had Po Ching Treasure sit outside the lead in a 1,800m Class Four and the gelding gave a great sight as 2.8 favourite, with just a head margin separating the runner-up from California Cherish, a horse that had sat on his back throughout.
Po Ching Treasure carries top weight of 133 pounds, but meets California Cherish three pounds better here. That horse is one of five rivals from the same race last start, but the key here is pace – or at least, the absence of it, courtesy of what looks a distinct lack of capable leaders.
No pace on paper can sometimes equate to a mad rush to be up front, but in the hands of Purton, Po Ching Treasure should get the right type of ride – probably from in front – that doesn’t overtax his mount by going too fast, nor will he invite mid-race moves by travelling too slowly.
California Cherish (Neil Callan) deserves to go in again, while Monsieur Mogok (Joao Moreira) should be suited by the return to 1,800m after gaining a run when Rapid Triumph was withdrawn yesterday.
From there, include Smart Union (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu), System Overload (Brett Prebble) and perhaps Super Silks (Douglas Whyte) in a race with plenty of chances.
In the opening leg of the TT, John Size has eased Tom’s Charm (Moreira) back from knee surgery and his patience should pay off with a big second-up showing in a 1,650m Class Four.
Tom’s Charm was finding form midway through last term, but he was also battling persistent leg problems constantly. He underwent an arthroscopy on both front knees, but also subsequently suffered a bout of colitis.
Typical of his style, Size has taken his time this preparation and a closing first-up fifth over 1,200m – a distance short of the gelding’s best – was a great sign as he steps up to a more suitable distance.
Also include G-One Leader (Chad Schofield), Business As Usual (Derek Leung Ka-chun) and Geronimo Meadow (Nash Rawiller).
With the Hong Kong International Sale just around the corner, the best graduate from last year’s auction so far, Mr Right (Moreira), can add the Police Cup to his already impressive record.
Mr Right has won three times this season, all over Happy Valley’s 1,000m dash, where he is yet to miss a top two spot in five starts this term.
Take Mr Right as banker from Top Bonus (Matthew Chadwick), Fortune Bo Bo (Purton) and former Adelaide galloper Bad Boy (Leung), having his first start in Hong Kong.