A couple of David Hall-trained three-year-olds can kick off the Triple Trio as ideal bankers at Sha Tin on Sunday as Cool And Neat and Mr Picasso both step up in trip looking for breakthrough wins.
There are few better at progressing and placing young horses than Hall and after some encouraging efforts his untapped duo seem to have found the right races and have been blessed with low gates after horror draws previously.
Cool And Neat (Brett Prebble) has jumped from 11 and 12 at his first two starts, over 1,200m and 1,400m, and on Sunday steps up to a far more ideal 1,600m drawn gate two.
After going close on debut, Mr Picasso (Joao Moreira) was heavily favoured at his next two starts but he too has been hindered by wide gates, drawing 11, 10 and 10 at his three starts so far.
Those wide gates forced jockeys into unfavourable tactics but now from gate one, up to 1,400m and with a key gear change, Mr Picasso is likely to again be sent around at short odds.
To starts things off in the TT, Cool And Neat contests a 1,600m Class Four that looks quite open on the paper, but Hall’s horse looks the one with upside and has been screaming out for this trip.
Last start saw Cool And Neat dropped back to last from his draw over 1,400m, before eating up ground late for fifth on a rain-sodden track many felt wasn’t helping backmarkers.
With a month between runs, and another 200m to work with, Cool And Neat gets a great chance to be in the finish and not only finds a race lacking a standout runner, but a rare mile contest where at least some tempo seems assured.
Beauty Love (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) will be sent forward from gate 11, and while he is hard to have after his shocking last-start capitulation under similar circumstances at Happy Valley, always beware the bounce back from a Tony Cruz-trained runner.
The likely leader looks Gorgeous Legend (Kei Chiong Ka-kei), with Beauty Love sitting outside her, and Little Fantasy (Nash Rawiller) maintaining a close spot along with Able Deed (Hugh Bowman).
Those first four in the run should go in, but the backmarkers get their chance too and Electronic Phoenix (Moreira) could be the one after a narrow second last start and can be used as a double banker.
While a low draw may not change the tactics much for Cool And Neat, his stablemate Mr Picasso could find himself in an ideal closer spot in the following race, a 1,200m Class Four.
Two starts back Mr Picasso never got warm after being taken back by Zac Purton and when Moreira tried to be closer last start from his draw he was stuck wide and failed to make much impression in the straight.
Perhaps the youngster didn’t show his best on those two occasions because of shifting ground with rain about and he should appreciate firmer footing.
Mr Picasso trialled well with cheekpieces on since that last start and has been working with blinkers on, but on raceday will wear pacifiers with cowls – enough to sharpen the son of Exceed And Excel up just enough, without inducing him to overrace.
Moreira should find himself in the box seat spot behind last start winner Care Free Prince (Purton), who goes in, but will have to work to get across from barrier 10.
Another chance, Volitation (Prebble), will also be in the pace mix, but key to the overall tempo is what Chiong does on Molly’s Jade Star – a difficult ride drawn very awkwardly in gate 11.
Still include Molly’s Jade Star, but also give Team Sweet (Hugh Bowman) another chance, with a step back in trip looking ideal.
The Class Three 1,800m final leg looks a real ticket buster, and even though Allcash (Chad Schofield) had every chance last start, he still looks the obvious banker.
Sha Tin should suit Allcash more, but from there this race is a lottery in which tempo is difficult to predict. Take Allcash with General Sherman (Moreira), Unicorn (Chiong) and Sharp Sailor (Douglas Whyte).