A switch to the dirt seems to have brought the best chance of success for Travel Comforts and with Joao Moreira aboard after a heartbreaking last-start defeat, the Tony Millard-trained sprinter stands out as banker in the final leg of Monday’s Triple Trio at Sha Tin.
Another of Millard’s slow-to-develop South African imports, Travel Comforts had developed a reputation as a bit of a speedy squib on the turf through six unplaced starts, regularly scooting clear to lead in his races before compounding badly, sometimes before the turn. However, last start on the dirt for the first time brought about an improvement.
Travel Comforts’ backers were counting their cash when the sprinter kicked clear at big odds for Jack Wong Ho-nam – Travel Comforts was nearly three lengths clear with less than 200m to go – but then the horse put finally put up the surrender signal and started shortening stride.
It enabled Helen’s Choice, a rival again here, to nab the outsider right on the line under Kei Chiong Ka-kei, but the runner-up performance was enough to show where Travel Comforts’ future lies.
Sha Tin’s all-weather track enables horses to maintain a run perhaps longer than they normally can, which at times can help a frontrunner.
It seemed a psychological issue as much as an issue of physical stamina when Travel Comforts stalled within sight of the post last start – he was a bit lost out in front and seemed to be looking around – but Joao Moreira on for the first time is a major upgrade in this type of situation. Moreira is a real live wire in the saddle and seems to have an almost blinkers-like effect at times.
From gate three he shouldn’t have any trouble leading – that has never been the problem for Travel Comforts anyway – but the challenge might be getting the same sole lead as Wong was gifted last time.
Manfred Man Ka-leung’s three-year-old Ruminare (Gerald Mosse) looks an interesting proposition coming to the dirt for the first time – he has been in the market at all three of his starts, but hasn’t had the strength to stick with the older horses.
Last start Ruminare was given every chance by Mosse, but maybe the dirt is just what he needs as well. He has trialled well on the surface, and even if gate 11 doesn’t look great, include him in the leading chances.
From there it’s a case of where to stop in a race where anything could happen, with Paul O’Sullivan’s Never Better (Douglas Whyte) also trying the track for the first time after some solid efforts at Happy Valley – he has trialled well enough to suggest he will enjoy a change as well.
Helen’s Choice, with Chiong aboard again, only carries four more pounds than last start and still seems well in with just 108 pounds on his back after the in-form apprentice’s 10-pound claim.
Blinkers on could spark veteran course specialist Easy Success (Brett Prebble), Planet Giant (Matthew Chadwick) returns to the scene of his only win and Hurricane Kid (Nash Rawiller) is a chance.
Punters might have an extra day to do the form for the public holiday fixture, but they will need it to get to the bottom of a TT that looks incredible difficult on paper, with all three races full of out-of-form horses making it seemingly hard to predict.
The first leg is a 1,400m Class Four that looks a daunting task to sort through. However, gate one and a soft midfield run in a race where there should be speed will be enough for G-One Leader (Chad Schofield) to figure.
From there include Bold Stitch (Gavin Lerena), Raging Bull (Moreira) and Amazing Always (Chiong), who responded well to the claim last start.
The middle leg, a 2,000m Class Three, looks by far the most difficult to find a reliable banker, although the presence of some leaders does give the impression there will be plenty of speed.
With this in mind take Ashkiyr (Moreira), a backmarker who needs plenty of favours, ahead of Midnite Promise (Schofield) and Unique Happiest (Chiong).
From there, it looks incredibly tough with Allcash (Karis Teetan) and Happilababy (Purton) other options.