Lotus Strikes Back has been consistent since making a mid-season switch to the John Moore stable and a step up to 2,200m for the first time makes the stayer a decent Triple Trio banker in the final leg on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
The TT looks a tough nut to crack and all three legs are highly competitive. Even the opening pin, a much maligned Class Five, contains a group that don’t look like they belong in the cellar grade,while the final leg is over the always tricky 2,200m where Lotus Strikes Back can act as anchor.
With a short run to the first of three turns, these races are often run at a muddling tempo, while mid-race moves are common and can make even the most meticulously formed speed maps soon look redundant.
Adding another degree of difficulty tomorrow night is the rail out in the C position, which seems to create some unpredictable race scenarios, and a track that could be firm if the hot and dry conditions continue.
Lotus Strikes Back, with Joao Moreira on for the fourth straight start, seems to have at least one more win in him off a mark of 68 and from gate one should be well-positioned to adapt to whatever pace situation presents.
After a couple of seconds to Rouge Et Blanc at Sha Tin, it was a switch to the city track that brought about success for Lotus Strikes Back last month, and since then the son of Danehill Dancer was fourth as favourite over the same 1,800m course.
Lotus Strikes Back may have finished closer had Moreira been able to find a slightly closer spot in the run from an awkward draw, but the way the five-year-old found the line indicated that a little extra ground won’t be a problem.
There are enough one-paced types that need to be handy to have any chance that it should create at least some early pressure, with Po Ching Treasure (Jacky Tong Chi-kit) and Happy Contender (Kei Chiong Ka-kei) likely to be up on the speed, and Sempiternal (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) handy as well.
With such wide open contests across all three legs, perhaps a double banker can be employed, with another son of Danehill Dancer, Tony Millard’s Allcash (Chad Schofield) a solid option.
Allcash just lacks that little bit of dash to push him over the edge, but he was second over the course and distance two starts ago and will whack away well enough to be in contention.
General Sherman (Neil Callan) and Redwood Baby (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) are both options, but will need some luck in running and are perhaps they are the two to leave out if looking to cut down on numbers.
Competitive and Class Five do not usually belong in the same sentence, but plenty of connections will fancy their chances in the opening leg of the TT over 1,200m and it is difficult to nail down a banker.
Instead take the four at the top of the weights – Formula Galore (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu), Rugby Diamond (Zac Purton), Giddy Giddy (Olivier Doleuze) and Ray Of Gold (Nash Rawiller).
In the middle leg, a 1,650m Class Four, take Andreas Schutz-trained Giant Turtle (Douglas Whyte) as a banker after a couple of unlucky outings, with the four-year-old coming up with gate one.
Also include Go Go Win (Chiong), Royal Partner (Purton) and Danewin Express (Matthew Chadwick).