A better draw and more luck in running should help Jumbo Luck break out of Class Four with a win in the Castle Peak Bay Handicap on Sunday at Sha Tin.
A tendon injury meant it took more than 12 months to get Jumbo Luck to the races and when trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai did reveal the son of Reward For Effort, the gelding notched a tidy debut win in November.
Lui has continued a balancing act with the four-year-old, easing him along, and it wasn’t until last month that Jumbo Luck reappeared after some more setbacks.
Despite drawing barrier 11, Jumbo Luck was sent out 2.7 favourite and it all went wrong as Brett Prebble attempted to utilise the horse’s gate speed but ended up stuck wide.
Jumbo Luck wasn’t just stuck three-wide though, he was shunted out even deeper, mostly racing without cover, at best four-wide on the circle through a very fast middle section.
The favourite still managed to sprint home in the second best final 400m in a messy race and make ground on the winner, Mr Piccasso.
A repeat on that effort here, combined with even luck, should ensure Jumbo Luck handles top weight and gate four means the Australian jockey is more likely to get a nice sit behind the speed.
From the draw, Prebble maps to get the perfect race position he gained in the first-up victory.
Later in the day, Joao Moreira will have his hands full trying to haul standout young sprinter Bravo Watchman around a bend, but a couple of key trials at Happy Valley should have the youngster suitably prepared.
Bravo Watchman only just ground out a narrow victory last start at Sha Tin after a dominant win on debut but Chris So Wai-yin’s massive gelding does look to be heading higher than Class Three.
Weighing in at well over 1,200 pounds, Bravo Watchman will need to show some more finesse than he has in his two straight track starts when he steps out in one section of the Sha Tin Hoi Handicap.
Bravo Watchman tries a turn for the first time in a race and drawing 11 certainly creates some headaches for Moreira, although the three-year-old’s two trials at Happy Valley have been encouraging.
At his first trial on the smaller track Bravo Watchman took some balancing up by Moreira, but last time out he travelled smoothly and was more tractable into the turn.
It helps Bravo Watchman’s cause that rival Roman Odyssey (Nash Rawiller) has drawn outside him in gate 12.
Faring better at the draw was So’s consistent four-year-old Everest (Sam Clipperton), who jumps from gate four in the Port Shelter Handicap.
Everest is still looking for a maiden victory after a couple of agonising results earlier in the term and steps back up to what looks his best distance.
Two narrow defeats from similarly low draws at 1,400m were followed by a second to Mr Potential, a horse that won its next start and remained competitive in Class Three.
Breeders’ Star comes to Sha Tin for the first time this season for the other section of the Sha Tin Hoi Handicap after compiling a solid record at the smaller track.
The David Ferraris-trained chestnut has won two from seven at the city track and steamed home for third, beaten just a head, in an on-pace dominated contest last start.
Breeders’ Star has enough gate speed to make good use of barrier one and should get a lovely run behind the speed in what could be a fast-run race on the B + 2 course.