John Size’s quest for back-to-back championships can continue with a trio of top chances led by sprinter Love Shock in the Hong To Handicap on Thursday night at Happy Valley.
Love Shock, Premiere and Game Of Fun could add three more wins to Size’s tally as the eight-time titleholder tears through the middle part of the season.
Funnily enough, it was Love Shock and Premiere winning at their first trip to the Valley, back on International Jockeys’ Championship night in December, that marked the beginning of Size’s hot streak after a slow start to the term.
The two sprinters were part of a treble that took Size to 20 wins and fourth place on the ladder, after he had moved slowly through the first few months of the term.
Since that treble on December 7, Size has trained 19 winners from 13 meetings and now leads John Moore by four approaching the halfway mark of the season.
Love Shock (Joao Moreira) looks a great chance to win for the second time at the city track in 2016-17, coming up with an inside draw for the first time in five starts this term.
The massive four-year-old comes off a dirt-track second two weeks ago to California Whip – a horse that is headed up the ratings in a hurry.
Now Size sneaks his 82-rater back into an extended band Class Three in which Love Shock gets another chance to show off the Valley form that delivered him an easy victory two starts ago.
Love Shock can be a little slow away at times, so a clean jump is critical if Moreira wants to make full use of the inside gate.
On paper, the tempo doesn’t present as overly strong, but the presence of Kei Chiong Ka-kei on Hella Hedge and Alvin Ng Ka-chun on King Genki mean that could change as the race unfolds.
The biggest danger to Love Shock could be Green Card (Zac Purton), who showed some promise early before losing his way a touch.
A second to Beat The Clock last start was encouraging and barrier three gives Purton the ideal spot to stalk the likely favourite in the run.
After scoring for Hugh Bowman on IJC night, Premiere notched a dominant win for Moreira three weeks ago and now faces a big weight swing against him in the Hoi Yuen Handicap over 1,000m.
On that occasion Premiere went head-to-head with Moment Of Power as they sat one-two in the run, before the former showed his class to pull away by three-and-a-half lengths.
Premiere goes up 11 ratings points and faces his rival 11 pounds worse off, and from similar draws the same scenario should play out again in running with the younger horse sitting outside Moment Of Power in the run.
Even with the weight pull and knowing how hard it is for three-year-olds to give weight to older horses, Premiere should have the necessary upside to absorb the ratings increase and move into Class Two.
Game Of Fun (Purton) made his Valley debut with a decent second four weeks ago and now returns with another low draw in the Shui Wo Handicap over 1,200m.
The smaller track seems to suit the four-year-old more and barrier three in a race with some tempo should help Game Of Fun progress out of Class Four.
Adding some extra confidence to Game Of Fun’s claims was a strong trial at Happy Valley last Saturday.
The one for quinellas is the Tony Millard-trained Speedy Achiever (Chad Schofield), who flashed home for a luckless fourth last Wednesday and returns with a slightly better draw.
Also watch for Kirov (Brett Prebble) with blinkers on for the first time and back at his favourite course and distance.