A Triple Trio capped by one of the best Sha Tin sprint races in recent memory makes it a tough one to crack but bringing Bulb Master back in trip makes the Paul O’Sullivan-trained sprinter a decent banker to start things off with in the opening leg.
Two super-competitive Class Fours open the TT, before a Chairman’s Sprint Prize containing some of the world’s most exciting speedsters forms the final leg, meaning punters will need to be on their game to get a piece of a dividend helped along by a jackpot of nearly HK$3.6 million.
Before a last start failure at a mile, Bulb Master had put together three straight solid efforts over 1,400m, including a short-head defeat as favourite and a strong run-on effort that gave the indication that a step up in trip would not be a problem for the three-year-old.
Yet after Zac Purton pushed forward to sit handy at 1,600m, the slightly slower sectionals meant Bulb Master probably travelled a touch too strongly and didn’t finish off, fading to finish unplaced, beaten five and a half lengths.
Maybe the mile will be suitable one day, but clearly not yet; back at 1,400m, with Nash Rawiller back on and from barrier four, Bulb Master can return to his best and break his maiden at start seven.
There doesn’t look to be a lot of speed in the race, so Bulb Master can take close order without having to be pushed, something he has been able to do previously at the trip, and should get an ideal run.
This is a race to play narrow – the final leg looks deceptively tricky – so take Molly’s Jade Star (Purton), Winner St Paul’s (Tye Angland) and Home Run (Joao Moreira), risking the rest.
The second leg is a difficult 1,200m Class Four, with two of the main chances – Smiling Glory (Moreira) and Namjong Invincible (Purton) – drawing out.
They still look clear standout selections, but perhaps going without a banker and adding Diamond Bit (Gavin Lerena) and Socket King (Angland) is a better play.
The Chairman’s Sprint Prize is quite simply the race of the season so far, and while it will be heart-in-your-mouth stuff, take Australian star Chautauqua (Tommy Berry) as a banker ahead of a host of world class horses.
At some stage, Chautauqua’s get back and storm home style will make it look like he cannot win – it always seems that way – but the big grey’s trackwork has been exceptional and his best should be good enough to beat a vulnerable local group.
Fellow Australian Buffering (Damian Browne) should be included – he performed admirably last time he was in town, considering his poor preparation, and came up with a perfect draw.
Of the locals, Peniaphobia (Matthew Chadwick) appears to have come back from Dubai in good order and is perhaps the best Hong Kong-trained hope.
Up-and-coming types Thewizardofoz (Moreira), Amazing Kids (Rawiller) and Lucky Bubbles (Brett Prebble) could figure, while Gold-Fun (Olivier Peslier) has been given an ideal freshen-up ahead of this race.