Champion trainer John Size has made a typically slow and steady start to his title defence but D B Pin can help get things moving when the untapped talent returns in the Shum Wan Handicap.
Size has four winners from the 14 meetings but the eight-time champion has also had very few runners, sending out just 58 so far as he treads warily into the extended schedule of 88 race days.
By way of comparison, four trainers – Caspar Fownes, Chris So Wai-yin, Danny Shum Chap-shing and Me Tsui Yu-sak – have had more than 100 runners each at this early juncture.
Expect Size to start climbing the table soon as he sends out more runners and the stable trademark, the young progressive Private Purchase Griffins, begin hitting the track.
D B Pin started twice last season after some smart trials and finished runner-up on both occasions; first bumping into a more experienced track specialist, Dancing Flames, up the straight, before being made favourite for his second start.
That time over 1,200m, D B Pin looked to have the race parcelled up, showing surprising gate speed to lead early and then handing up to Multimax.
In the straight, the 2.1 chance pulled nearly a full length in front of Multimax before the benefit of apprentice Kei Chiong Ka-kei’s claim showed and she lifted her mount for a shock victory.
If we can put down D B Pin’s effort to inexperience and being a touch lost when exposed so far from home, the now four-year-old certainly deserves another chance.
Zac Purton was on for the horse’s first two runs, and reclaims the ride after Joao Moreira was on for the last two of three lead-up trials.
Moreira instead rides So’s in-form sprinter Flying Monkey and from gate 11 he could hold the key to the race.
He‘s likely to push forward from the wide barrier, but the Class Four also contains some other horses that will be placed close, especially if earlier races give trainers and jockeys the idea that the “C + 3” rail placement is favouring front-runners.
An above-average tempo would help the Caspar Fownes’ youngster Jumbo Happiness (Brett Prebble) and the Hong Kong International Sale graduate gets his first real chance after drawing a decent barrier for his third start.
When starting triple figure odds on debut, Jumbo Happiness was taken straight back from gate 12, Prebble charting a wide course on the turf and although the three-year-old didn’t make an impact, he still ran home steadily carrying 131 pounds.
A switch to the Valley and 1,000m saw the son of Fastnet Rock show vast improvement when again burdened with a bad barrier.
Prebble again had Jumbo Happiness at the tail, although he had little choice when outpaced early.
Jumbo Happiness was still last with 200m to go but really got motoring late, flashing home for fifth, even after a slight check.
A step up to 1,200m suits, but perhaps Jumbo Happiness needs even further to really show his best and another factor against him is a lack of early dash as he could easily end up at the back of the field anyway.
Moreira’s sensational ride on Consistent on Sunday continued the Brazilian’s astonishing Class Five record this term and he can build on it when he partners Great Speed in the Heung Yip Handicap.
Nine of Moreira’s 25 wins so far this season have been in the bottom grade and have come at a mind-blowing strike rate of 45 per cent.
A wide draw restricted Moreira’s options last start on Great Speed, but the Peter Ho Leung-trained sprinter, now rated 22, still ran home well for fourth behind Shining Champion and Formula Galore.
Great Speed will carry the same weight over the same course and distance, but this time he can be closer in the run from barrier six and should break a 28-start winless run.