First-up wins over the Valley’s helter skelter 1,000m course are few and far between but a solid preparation and a low draw give John Size-trained newcomer Big Bang Bong a great chance of a debut victory in the final leg of tomorrow night’s Triple Trio.
Big Bang Bong has plenty of factors against him in the Class Three sprint, not least of all a long list of beaten fancies that have tried their luck at the city course first time out from Europe.
History might be against him, but the three-year-old has good gate speed and a confidence-building trial over the course and distance behind him and can be competitive here.
Big Bang Bong, who has only had a subtle name change from his English name of Bing Bang Bong, arrives with a rating of 80 after three runs in relatively quick succession last summer as a two-year-old, culminating with a third in the Group Three Acomb Stakes over 1,400m behind blueblood Recorder. That came after an unlucky debut and impressive 1,200m straight win over Newmarket’s testing July course, and taking that limited race record into account, Size has wisely taken his time with the inexperienced sprinter.
Admittedly, three-year-olds carrying top weight against older horses is always a worry, as is the fact Big Bang Bong had never raced right-handed before arriving in mid-November.
After Big Bang Bong showed good early speed but a lack of condition in his first two trials up the straight, he was sent to the Valley to trial and handled it well, leading easily in his trial under Joao Moreira, who takes the ride here.
The horse’s most recent trial over 1,200m was less impressive, but perhaps the Irish-bred gelding doesn’t like the dirt – or maybe he just needed the workout.
Key to Big Bang Bong’s chances will be that aforementioned gate speed – if utilised, it will allow Moreira to take a nice position behind what should be an above average tempo on the B course.
Cutting across to lead, probably at all costs, will be Kei Chiong Ka-kei on Ocean Roar from gate 10, and from barrier 11 Sky Man should also be hunting forward. Apprentice Jack Wong Ho-nam will push on from barrier four, while Zac Purton on Triumphant Jewel won’t want to be far away.
A hectic pace will be unfamiliar to Big Bang Bong but that type of scenario would play out well for him if he stays out of the early skirmish, as it should for Racing Mate (Derek Leung Ka-chun) – a horse with a good finishing burst but hampered by awkward draws of late, so dropping into barrier three should be ideal.
Fantastico (Matthew Chadwick) returns to the city track after he should have won there last month and he has to go in from a draw that will have him stalking the speed as well.
In the opening leg, a Class Four over 1,650m, ignore the last start effort of Super Sweet Orange (Purton) and bank on the four-year-old breaking through for a first local win after a step up in trip went horribly wrong last start.
Super Sweet Orange had been racing well over 1,650m but, with blinkers back on up at 1,800m, he overraced badly, a situation that was made worse when he copped a squeeze at the start and was trapped wide through the first part of the race.
Now he comes back to the extended mile, where some more speed in front and barrier three give him a terrific opportunity to break his duck.
Also include Robust Momentum (Olivier Doleuze), Newswire Free (Moreira), Go-Getter (Chadwick) and Baltic Warrior (Gavin Lerena).
Tactics will play a huge part in a tricky second leg over 2,200m, with a number of evenly matched Class Three types lining up.
With three turns and likelihood of a muddling tempo, a mid-race move could change the race in an instant and it may end up being a case of best ride wins.
Chiong again will be left to set the early speed on Little Island, but take Tony Millard-trained import Allcash as banker, with Moreira to get a nice trail into the race from a handy one-off spot.
From there include Happy Rocky (Brett Prebble), Savvy Nature (Purton) and Towering Storm (Teetan).