Punters could do worse than follow in-form Australian jockey Nash Rawiller after his first ever four-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday and I’m The Won For U looks ready for a breakthrough on the dirt on Sunday at Sha Tin.
Rawiller has ridden seven winners from the first five meetings, striking at better than 24 per cent, to place him outright second in the jockeys’ championship, three wins behind Zac Purton, while he currently has a better than 50 per cent place strike rate.
The heavyweight has shown some great skills on the dirt previously, and from a better draw than last start he should be able to provide I’m The Won For U the right run in a weak Class Four and help the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained sprinter breakthrough at start 12.
I’m The Won For U will be on a two-week back-up from a run-on third on the dirt, where Rawiller was forced into a defensive position at the start from gate 11, racing wide and back in the field before producing an eye-catching finish.
Race position will be everything for I’m The Won For U on Sunday, and Rawiller should be able to find a perfect spot, a little closer to the speed, from barrier four in a race with an abundance of suitable pace to run on to.
For the exotics look to Respect (Joao Moreira) and, for value, a couple having their first try on the all-weather track; Unleashed Dragon (Olivier Doleuze) and Spring Win (Karis Teetan), they should both handle the surface.
Moreira returns from a two-meeting suspension and of course finds himself booked on some likely favourites, led by Chris So Wai-yin’s Lotus Breeze and promising John Size-trained four-year-old House Of Fun.
Lotus Breeze – who has dropped to the bottom of Class Three since arriving on a mark of 87 – has already raced twice this season, working home for fifth in an on-pace dominated race at the opening meeting, after racing very wide, before narrowly missing when second to Lucky Day eight days later.
From barrier two and with 117 pounds on his back, Lotus Breeze gets a golden opportunity to snap a 22-start drought in an open Class Three that should be run at a genuine clip given the presence of a few noted on-pace runners.
House Of Fun ran into a series of tough draws last season but was always going to be a better horse this time around anyway, especially as the son of Starcraft finds a mile or further.
A first-up assignment over 1,400m looks ideal and two nice trials should have the 1,200-pound-plus gelding, who raced late into last term and would be carrying some residual fitness anyway, ready to rumble.
Moreira also climbs aboard John Moore-trained Invincible Dragon in the last, a competitive 1,400m Class Two, and the Irish-bred gelding out of France has a terrific hope from barrier three.
After making an immediate impact with a debut win with a big weight in April, Invincible Dragon held his own in Class Two and should be able to take another step this season.
It might pay to play wide and watch the markets closely in what is sure to be a spirited betting race, but Merion (Brett Prebble) looms as the obvious quinella horse having run a solid second first-up over the course and distance at the season opener.