A low draw on the C course has proven a winning formula already this season for David Ferraris-trained sprinter Smart Declaration and he is well-placed to take advantage of a strong tempo in the opening leg of the Triple Trio at Happy Valley tomorrow night.
Three starts back, Smart Declaration box-seated from gate two with the rail out in the C position before notching a relatively comfortable win.
In two starts over the same 1,000m course and distance since, Smart Declaration has been forced back in the field but has still ran on admirably with top weight for a pair of fourths.
Back again to 1,000m, where the five-year-old has an excellent record of three wins from eight starts and has missed a top four place just once, gate three on the C course gives Ferraris a great chance of success.
Brett Prebble rides for the second straight start and from the draw he should find himself perfectly positioned behind what could be some pressure up front.
Ten-pound apprentice Kei Chiong Ka-kei’s booming popularity has some real upside for punters as her presence can create some assurance of tempo, as it does here.
With Chiong on Brilliant Proposal from gate 12, whoever has designs on leading can probably expect some company by the time they start to turn, if they haven’t been in a battle already.
Call Me Achiever has lost a lot of his pace but won’t be far away, and consistent sprinter Top Bonus (Joao Moreira) will need to be bouncing around in there somewhere to be competitive. Then there is Fantastico (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) from barrier four – he could be in the pace mix as well.
Prebble can sit behind and watch the show, hoping the leading pack cut into each other a bit, before balancing up and going for home.
In a competitive race, a few other backmarkers will be hoping for some on-pace fireworks including Racing Mate (Chad Schofield), No Money No Talk (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) and Flying Force (Douglas Whyte), with a crossed-nose band and genuine tempo to help his cause no end.
If looking to narrow things down, perhaps play Top Bonus as a double banker – especially considering the next two legs don’t look much easier to sort out.
In the second leg, a 1,200m Class Four, Paul O’Sullivan sends out another promising type to debut at the Valley.
This time, it is Namjong Invincible (Zac Purton) thrown in the deep end on the tight track and although the New Zealand trial winner still has plenty to learn, he has been well prepared through three trials at the circuit and came up with a lovely draw.
O’Sullivan hasn’t had a great record of winning first-up with horses but this season he has been solid – Moment Of Power was able to scrape home three weeks ago first-up and Namjong Invincible strikes a similar type of look, still green but as ready as he will ever be to debut.
It is a very tough ask for Namjong Invincible but bank on his class, especially with his main rivals drawing out.
Regency Darling (Prebble) was struck down with lameness after an early season win but seems to have progressed since then at the trials – he will win his way out of Class Four, but from gate nine it will be difficult. The same can be said for John Size-trained European Wisky (Moreira) from barrier 11.
From there take last-start winner Victor Emperor (Chad Schofield), Fish N’ Chips (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) and Wah May Baby (Whyte).
The final leg, a 1,650m Class Three, is perhaps the most difficult in which to nail down a banker, so instead roll the dice with a top four of Formula Won (Ho), Ultimate Glory (Gerald Mosse), King Of Mongolia (Moreira) and Golden Sleep (Gavin Lerena).