John Size hit the front in the trainers’ championship with a treble on Tuesday but a strong team including talented first starters Bond Elegance and Infinity Endeavour could see him shoot even further ahead on Sunday at Sha Tin.
Size started the season slowly with just four winners from the first 17 meetings, but the eight-time champion has been on a roll since then and has rattled off 21 winners from the last 15 meetings, including 11 in December.
Tuesday’s haul took him to 27 for the term, one ahead of early leader Chris So Wai-yin.
Joao Moreira has ridden 13 of Size’s winners and he not only rides Bond Elegance and Infinity Endeavour, but three more smart types for the stable in the final three races of the day; Unicron Jewellery, Beat The Clock and Mr Stunning.
Bond Elegance starts his career in a moderate-looking 1,000m Class Four where he has drawn 10 of 14 – an ideal spot from where Moreira can utilise the three-year-old’s handy gate speed.
Having had two trials in Sydney before arriving with Size, Bond Elegance has progressed nicely through five hit-outs here, showing some extra spark when blinkers were applied for a 1,200m dirt trial just over two weeks ago.
Bond Elegance had been a little lazy in his previous Happy Valley trial, but the blinkers had the son of Hard Spun stay switched on throughout the relatively easy workout.
The Grassy Hill Handicap is an ideal assignment on debut, with Peace Combination (Matthew Chadwick) and Bumble baby (Sam Clipperton) the two biggest dangers.
Infinity Endeavour is another three-year-old with a similar preparation at the trials to his stablemate, although probably faces a much tougher task over 1,200m in the Wong Leng Handicap.
A tricky draw (barrier nine) and another progressive three-year-old, Paul O’Sullivan’s Star Of Patch (Zac Purton), will make Infinity Endeavour’s first start a difficult one.
Still, it is a field that lacks depth and four trials have Infinity Endeavour ready to go, after having already trialled five times in Australia for Gai Waterhouse.
Infinity Endeavour wasn’t impressive in his first two local trials, nor was his third, even considering the fact he knuckled badly when suffering interference in the early stages.
The most recent effort over 1,200m on the dirt saw the son of Fastnet Rock lead throughout, looking fitter and more like a racehorse.
Star Of Patch has also drawn badly in gate 12 and he will have come on for an eye-catching debut up the straight, where he raced without cover and still made ground. O’Sullivan has sent Star Of Patch back to the trials since and he will be very hard to beat.
In the Kowloon Peak Handicap, Purton takes over from Moreira on the John Moore-trained miler Go Beauty Go, who gets a golden opportunity to break through for a first win.
Go Beauty Go has drawn barrier one and Purton might have to try to be a touch closer than previously in a race that lacks speed.
Victory Master (Brett Prebble) is the probable leader, with Triumphant Light (Kei Chiong Ka-kei) rolling up to his outside.
Purton gets on an impressive-looking import having its first local start when Jade Theatre steps out in the Lantau Peak Handicap (Class Three, 1,200m).
Jade Theatre was precocious enough to start favourite in the Matamata Slipper as a two-year-old and was purchased out of New Zealand after being beaten less than three lengths at Group One level in the Diamond Stakes.
Now with Manfred Man Ka-leung, the three-year-old has trialled brilliantly four times and should be relatively forward in condition on Sunday.