Versatile Third Time Lucky must be banker

Robin Parke

HE may be no champion but sprinter Third Time Lucky is an ideal horse for Hongkong - he handsomely pays his own bills.

The David Oughton-trained galloper is also adaptable, having run excellently over 1,200 metres at Sha Tin and then on the dreaded Happy Valley equitrack to which he returns tomorrow night in the fifth event.

With a list of placings almost ready to stretch the length of a page, there can be no doubting that Third Time Lucky is ideal material as a Double Trio banker.

He stands out in that particular role in the second leg of the exotic bet but Third Time Lucky will face fairly stiff competition if he is to prevail in this one.

Horses from the Oughton stable have been running right back into form in recent weeks and Darren Beadman, who was seen to real advantage on International Races Day, gets the ride in place of Irish ace Mick Kinane, now back in the Emerald Isle after his six-month stint in Hongkong.

Although he has not drawn particularly well in barrier six, Third Time Lucky has such excellent speed on this surface that he should be right there by the time they have gone 200 metres.

And, in relation to the Double Trio, it is difficult to envisage him not finishing in the first three considering the excellent record that he has.

Basil Marcus, who continues doggedly to chip away at the healthy lead established by Tony Cruz in the jockeys' championship battle, takes out Allocate for Ivan Allan and they are going to be right there from the rails position.

Allan has done particularly well with Allocate and Marcus, who rides Happy Valley and the synthetic surface better than anyone, won't be hanging around.

Allocate could win this without surprising anybody.

The most interesting runner in the eight-horse field is bottomweight Orchestra, which is to be ridden again by Cruz.

The horse takes a voluntary promotion to contest this Class Three short sprint and has the credentials to do something worthwhile.

He was beaten into second place two starts back by Smart Runner when half a ride would have seen him safely home. And then he failed to muster the early pace to be handy at his last outing.

Orchestra ran on fairly well but remains a very distinct chance in any 1,030-metre race.

It will be interesting to see tomorrow night if he can get into the action a little more quickly with the weight off his back. Orchestra should definitely be included in DT selections.

Trainer Lawrie Fownes must be shaking his head over Picador who looked a useful type in the making very early this season. But the horse has run very disappointingly on several occasions since.

The popular mentor has turned to one of the men really in form at the moment - Club jockey John Marshall - in an effort to conjure something out of his reluctant sprinter.

Marshall has ridden two good winners for Fownes in the absence of Darren Gauci who tomorrow night partners Global Star for Neville Begg in this event.

The first leg of the DT is a more open affair and potentially very tricky.

But Gauci and Fownes should have a major say in the outcome with Little Big Horn whose only real form is on the synthetic surface.

Little Big Horn has drawn barrier 10 but if statistics don't lie, then this is not the ''coffin box'' most racegoers would immediately believe.

Little Big Horn is in good heart and his fast-finishing second to Three Cheers over 1,400 metres on the equitrack on March 17 suggests he is the one to beat here.

Three Cheers set a cracking pace that night and Little Big Horn came from 10 lengths off the pace to be a half-length second. The step up to the 1,600 metres is ideal and he must be there - particularly as the Fownes stable is enjoying another excellent season.

Marshall could also take a hand in this event with veteran campaigner Galloping Free, who really has come right down the ratings since early last season when he scored in a similar event.

His most recent efforts have not been notably praiseworthy but he does handle this surface and Galloping Free will get maximum encouragement from on top.

In the hope of a decent pay-out he should be included in selections along with topweight Let It Be and lightly raced Dynamic Racer who will find this slightly harder but could sneak a place.