A HK$9 million-plus jackpot makes the Triple Trio worth a shot on Wednesday and a step up in trip has the John Size-trained import Dinozzo ready to breakthrough and an appealing banker in the final leg.
Dinozzo was a winner at his only race start in Ireland over 1,600m before impressing in a series of barrier trials that had the Siu Pak-kwan purchase looking well placed off a rating of 71.
It was in his fourth trial, however, that the gelding suffered a serious injury and was eased down before being transported away with a pelvic fracture.
Three more trials had Dinozzo ready for his return and although unwanted in betting at 24-1 first-up at the Valley over 1,650m, Size’s horse acquitted himself well when a luckless third.
Zac Purton, who takes the ride again, sat just behind midfield in a slowly run race but as he tried to find clear room at the furlong he was shut down from the outside by, firstly, A Beautiful, and then the fast-finishing runner-up Inventor.
Purton persisted in pushing through the narrow gap and eventually managed to do so, but by then Dinozzo had used up precious energy and lost momentum.
Even without the interference, all things considered, a European import being beaten one and a quarter lengths on his local debut at the Valley is a good result.
Add to that the horse was having just his second start and hadn’t raced in just short of a year, so it is reasonable to expect Dinozzo will return for his second-up run a slightly better conveyance.
A step up to 1,800m looks ideal for a horse acquired with the 2017 Hong Kong Derby in mind, and even though barrier 10 doesn’t look great, it probably isn’t as bad for a horse that will get back and benefit from more clear running than last time.
There does look to be some pace in the race; course specialist Packing Dragon led all the way last time and each of his three successes have been from on pace. Now with Kei Chiong Ka-kei aboard there’s little doubt Packing Dragon will be allowed to roll on the B course, and Ambitious Dragon’s late-blooming little brother is a contender again as he reaches the top of Class Three.
Cloud Nine (Chad Schofield) should stay close enough in the run to keep the leader honest, but key to the overall speed will be Jack Wong Ho-nam’s tactics on outsider Dashing King, a horse that has led over shorter trios at his first two runs this term.
Include Inventor (Nash Rawiller), General Sherman (Douglas Whyte) and Industrialist Way (Joao Moreira).
Those praying for a good gate for Never Better (Whyte) got their wish when Paul O’Sullivan’s sprinter drew barrier two in a 1,200m Class Four.
It took a low gate for Never Better to break through late last season but the five-year-old drew out in barrier 11 at his first two runs back over the course and distance.
Whyte has been forced into negative tactics at the start of both races, then flashed home with eye-catching runs, but this time he will be handier in what doesn’t seem an overly strong Class Four, with the race spilt into two sections.
Moreira replaces Whyte on Breeders’ Star, who looks the main danger from barrier one, but also include Secret Agent (Neil Callan) and High Volatility (Purton).
In the opening leg, the first section of the 1,200m Class Four, stick with the Moreira-Caspar Fownes combination and expect Formula Galore to notch back-to-back wins.
Moreira has ridden eight winners from just 13 starts for Fownes this season, along with a second and a third.
Also include Sharp Hunter (Whyte), All My Gain (Sam Clipperton) and Yo-Yo Da (Schofield).