Caspar Fownes has off-season stable transfer So Caffe heading in the right direction and with a step up in trip and a drop down in grade the five-year-old has a great chance in the middle leg of the Triple Trio at Sha Tin on Sunday.
So Caffe came to Fownes from Sean Woods at the end of last season after suffering a left front tendon injury and with an unimpressive record of one win from 14 starts but he should win now he has found some fitness.
That solitary career victory came on debut in what was, in retrospect, a weak griffin race at the end of the 2013-14 season – although back in third was last weekend’s Group Three Hong Kong Macau Trophy winner Dashing Fellow – and after starting last season on a mark of 67, So Caffe performed only fairly, running on well at times without ever truly threatening.
As his rating dropped, though, the horse did put together some good late season performances and always gave the impression that a win would come sooner or later and probably coincide with a drop into Class Four.
Unfortunately a runner-up finish over 1,800m on the final day of last season brought with it the injury and four months rest – the upside of which has been around 30 pounds of bodyweight which Fownes has been able to work with.
The other significant aspect of that performance was that it was in the safer confines of Class Four, where So Caffe once again finds himself third-up. He also steps up to a mile, after encouraging displays over shorter so far this preparation.
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu again rides So Caffe after the two run-on efforts over 1,200m, where the horse has been dropped out to last and allowed to run on late.
So Caffe doesn’t just get 1,600m, though, but he finds what should be a suitably run race that will allow the backmarkers a chance – even with wet weather about and the rail in the C+3 position.
No one will want to be too far off the speed and there doesn’t seem any shortage of horses capable of being there, either.
After last Sunday’s display, Kei Chiong Ka-kei’s brief will be simple on most of her runners: take advantage of the 10-pound claim, get out in front and run along, which is what House Of Luck should do, with fellow apprentice Jack Wong Ho-nam likely to be close on Fortune Giggles as well. Throw Sir John into the pace mix, from a wide gate with Jacky Tong Chi-kit aboard, and there should be the ingredients for a better than average tempo.
That should suit So Caffe, as will any cut in the ground, but another backmarker running well and desperate for the right type of race is Royale Elegance (Karis Teetan), who should be included.
The other two to include are Happy Agility (Joao Moreira), who comes back to Class Four after some decent runs at the trip up in grade, and Gorgeous Legend (Nash Rawiller), a horse drawn to get a softer run in behind the pace this time.
Fownes has another stable transfer in the opening leg of the TT, with Apache Spirit (Brett Prebble) set for a big performance in a 1,650m Class Four on the dirt.
With rain about, predicting how the dirt races will be run might be better left until raceday – or in the hands of fortune tellers – but Apache Spirit’s first run for the stable was excellent, he handles the dirt and he should be in contention here despite a wide gate.
As banker take either Entrusting (Zac Purton) or Tianhuang (Moreira), with both looking well placed in the grade and at the course and distance, although any on-pace bias would work against the pair.
Ho Lee Horse (Chad Schofield) copped a right whack of eight pounds for his last start win, but can still go in, along with one from left field, Diamond Friends (Teetan), who returns to what seems his favoured surface for the first time in three months.
The final leg is a 1,200m Class Four where Hammer King (Moreira) and Good Man (Purton) again look the standouts after slugging it out in a close finish last start.
Good Man meets his rival three pounds better for the short head defeat and probably has upside, although Hammer King should be more tractable with the addition of a lugging bit – that could prove to be a key gear change.
Both horses drew well, so lean towards Good Man as banker, but don’t be afraid to play both as a double banker to create space earlier in the TT.
Chiong’s claim looks well used on King Of Household, also include Raging Bull (Prebble) and give Flying Monkey (Ho) another chance.