Meath makes for an easy banker
Champion jockey Douglas Whyte has given Triple Trio players a huge tip in the final leg at Happy Valley tomorrow night by switching from last-start course-and-distance winner Specific Sorceror to Meath despite the gelding managing only one placing in 15 starts.
With the TT failing to go off at the last two Happy Valley meetings, the pool is expected to reach $16 million and Whyte's decision should pay dividends for backers of Meath, who put the writing on the wall with a much-improved performance last start.
The Sadler's Wells gelding arrived in Hong Kong with the impressive credentials of two wins and three placings from five starts in Ireland before he travelled to England where he failed in the 2004 Derby behind North Light.
Meath began his Hong Kong career 15 months ago off a rating of 92 but he has struggled to perform anywhere near his Irish form. A glimmer of hope arrived three starts back when Meath turned in an improved effort after racing wide behind Gallant Falcon but he was a shade disappointing at his next assignment when sixth to Spokesman after being well supported.
Whyte had his first ride on Meath last time and the five-year-old showed dramatic improvement, working home soundly in the final stages to finish third to Can Opener.
The Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained gelding is ideally suited by the step up to 2,200 metres, should park right on the speed, which was his running style in Ireland, and get his chance to finally open his winning account.
The biggest danger is likely to come from the in-form Lazy Buddies, who looks set to get all the favours here, while Cypress Hill, Ever King, Specific Sorceror and Spectacular Hit are all entitled to consideration.
The opening leg looks tricky but the recent deluge of rain is likely to bring about a major improvement in the capable Serious Play.
While the Peter Ho Leung-trained seven-year-old doesn't possess great statistics, he comes into his own on rain-affected ground and dropping to Class Four for the first time makes him quite attractive as a value banker.
His only success of last term came over this track and trip on a yielding course and his last-start effort behind Dordenma, when settling at the tail of the field from an outside barrier, indicated he was again coming into form.
While several of his dangers have drawn poorly, Serious Play looks like getting an easy run for apprentice Alex Lai Hoi-wing, which will give him a good chance to return to his best. The pace runners Triumph, Napa and Master Dreamer must be included, while Happy Crusader should be in the finish if Whyte can manage to overcome the awkward draw of gate 11.
The middle pin also looks quite even, but Flying General is the safest banker option given that he looks likely to be gifted the run of the race from gate two.
The David Ferraris-trained gelding finished second to Glory Years last time over this course and distance after enjoying an easy run and although he hasn't managed a victory for 32 months, he won't get a better chance.
Other worthy inclusions are the ever-reliable Amo, Glory Years and Trust Me, while Keen Flyer should take a lot of catching out in the lead.
Gerald Mosse has been cleared of serious injury following X-rays and scans after his fall from Top Honor at Sha Tin on Sunday but will not ride tomorrow night. Mosse said he expected to be back in action at Sha Tin on Sunday for the Champions & Chater Cup meeting.