A key gear change and Joao Moreira back aboard can extract an extra length of effort from Electronic Phoenix and help deliver Triple Trio players a share of a big jackpot at Sha Tin on Saturday.
Moreira is the jockey to follow in all three legs of a TT with a carry-over of HK$17.6 million, as the Brazilian partners not only Benno Yung Tin-pang’s course specialist Electronic Phoenix, but also John Size-trained pair Wisky and Southern Express.
A drop back in grade should help Electronic Phoenix, but it is the addition of sheepskin cheek pieces and engagement of Moreira that should push the five-year-old over the threshold in a season where the gelding has gone agonisingly close twice.
Electronic Phoenix hasn’t won for more than a year but has been racing well this term – first-up he was beaten a short head by Real Fit in a race he might have won if not for a riderless horse taking him slightly off his line.
After an unplaced effort on the turf, Electronic Phoenix returned to 1,650m on the dirt and was again unlucky when beaten a head by Master Gold.
A step up in grade last start saw Electronic Phoenix ran another terrific race when fourth, flashing home with a fast final 400m after being shuffled back in the key middle stages.
It might seem crazy to call a horse a course specialist when they haven’t won on the track yet, but the all-weather surface is almost certainly where Electronic Phoenix can not just win, but possibly string two or three together.
Coming back to the top of Class Four, Electronic Phoenix looks well placed in a skinny looking contest where he again finds the in-form Master Gold (Nash Rawiller).
This time Electronic Phoenix meets Master Gold eight pounds better for the narrow defeat and hopefully the new headgear generates a little more sharpness and response in running.
The middle leg of the TT also looks the one to really nail down and play narrow, with the five at the top of the weights looking standouts, including Electronic Phoenix and Master Gold, but also Lucky Hammer (Opie Bosson), Team Sweet (Neil Callan) and Diamond Friends (Karis Teetan).
In the opening leg, Moreira will be hoping gate one does the trick for Wisky as the four-year-old makes his seasonal return in a 1,400m Class Four.
Wisky showed what the benefit for a box seat run can do when breaking through late last season and should get the right race setup again here.
The biggest danger and possible double banker is Home Run (Silvestre de Sousa), with Me Tsui Yu-sak’s getting a great draw for the first time this term after a couple of game efforts.
Victor Emperor (Douglas Whyte) is an interesting runner and should be included as he steps up in trip with the benefit of barrier three.
Super Sweet Orange (Teetan) is the other to include and while it is hard to forgive Namjong Invincible (Chad Schofield) for his recent displays, perhaps he can be given another chance with blinkers on for the first time.
In the final leg, the second section of the 1,400m Class Four, Southern Express seems a three-year-old bound for bigger things and can serve as banker on debut.
Owned by Larry Yung Chi-kin, the gelding strikes some similarities with another horse wearing those colours, the talented Eastern Express, in that he will need further in time, but 1,400m seems a good starting point after three excellent trials.
If looking for a double banker, take Chris So Wai-yin’s Double Down (Schofield) as he steps up in distance after flashing home late last time.
Also include Good For You (de Sousa), Pearl Win (Callan) and either Winning Vibe (Olivier Doleuze) or Snow Slider (Sam Clipperton).