With blinkers on for the first time, not to mention barrier three and Joao Moreira back aboard, Magical Beauty is likely to start one of the favourites at Happy Valley tomorrow night and should oblige as banker in the final leg of the Triple Trio.
The Tony Cruz-trained four-year-old could in time prove to be an astute purchase out of last year’s Hong Kong International Sale and with this year’s auction coming up on Friday the son of Magic Albert can break through for a second career win.
Magical Beauty heads to Happy Valley for the first time, tackling the two-turn 1,650m course, and even though blinkers on and stepping up in trip isn’t always an appealing combination, the gear change does seem the right move.
Even though Magical Beauty has been racing well in sheepskin cheekpieces, which he has worn at his last six starts, it seems as though the gelding is perhaps not completely genuine late in races.
Since winning four starts back, and then finishing unplaced after racing wide, Magical Beauty has looked the winner with 200m to go at his last two but failed to find the wire first, finishing third on both occasions.
Now with a barrier that should gift Moreira a box-seat run against a field containing little in the way of progressive opposition, Magical Beauty will be able to handle top weight of 133 pounds and move into Class Three.
Moreira’s main rival Zac Purton rides Magic Star for Paul O’Sullivan and he looks a possible double banker option. In fact, this race looms as an absorbing battle of tactics between the two top jockeys.
Magic Star has sprung to life with blinkers on at his last two and from barrier four, starts from alongside Magical Beauty.
Magic Star, also stepping up from 1,400m at Sha Tin, probably has the necessary speed to lead and it will be fascinating to see what Purton does from the start – does he challenge for a spot in front of Magical Beauty on the rail or sit outside him? The latter option seems more likely.
Drawn outside both horses is another at the Valley’s extended mile for the first time, Prompt Express, and with Karis Teetan, always a live wire out of the gates, on board, he should again find the front and should be included.
The fly in the ointment for the leading trio could be unfancied Glory Star drawn the outside. He was pushed along to lead from an inside draw at Sha Tin last time and if sent forward again it could make things even more interesting.
In a race that drops away quickly after the top three, also include Rising Power (Douglas Whyte) and Yeung Sing (Chad Schofield).
The opening leg provides the fun of picking a Class Five winner and, true to form, a horse with an abysmal record of zero wins from 29 starts stands out as the banker.
Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained six-year-old Bornfree (Purton) has dropped to a mark where he has been competitive and back at a more comfortable 1,650m he should break through.
Take Bornfree ahead of Medic Swordsman (Gavin Lerena), Sum Win Dragon (Keith Yeung Ming-lun), Circuit Star (Matthew Chadwick), Mr Vanilla (Neil Callan) and Oracle (Moreira).
With so many selections required in the Class Five, take a double banker in the middle leg – the Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup, a Class Three over 1,200m.
Go with Choice Treasure (Callan) and Red Kylin (Teetan) as bankers ahead of Happy Surveys (Moreira) and Supreme Falcon (Purton).