Another good draw and a gear change can get the best out of Smart Boy on a one-week back-up when Benno Yung Tin-pang’s sprinter contests the Ngau Tau Kok Handicap (1,200m) on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
Smart Boy (Zac Purton) seemed to be getting closer to a win late last season after a transfer to Yung before a capped joint caused him to miss a start on the final day.
The five-year-old ran into the rampant Starlight when returning last week but was impressive, sprinting to the line well behind the winner.
With the rail out in the C + 3, Smart Boy has come up with a crucial good draw, jumping from gate three, in a Class Four that features a rare full field.
Adding confidence is the application of sheepskin cheek pieces to Smart Boy, with the gear change likely to add a touch of sharpness to the gelding’s work.
The side winkers should also result in a more responsive horse in the run and for Purton to be able to place Smart Boy a touch closer to the speed and make best use of the draw.
Also helping Smart Boy is the fact his main rival here, the in-form and lightly raced Phantom Falcon (Derek Leung Ka-chun), has again drawn wide.
Last start Phantom Falcon did a great job to cross and lead from gate 10 at the first Valley meeting of the season, pushing Fox Sunter right to the line.
Behind Phantom Falcon that night were subsequent winners Starlight and Good Companion, but Leung will again have to press forward in a race with speed drawn underneath him.
Also getting home well behind Fox Sunter two weeks ago was Formula Galore (Joao Moreira), but he has drawn wide again and will need things to go his way coming from behind.
Smart Boy and Phantom Falcon look a decent double banker in the middle leg of the Triple Trio, but jockey Chad Schofield could provide the bookends with bankers on Crown Avenue and Polymer Luck.
A better draw in an average contest has Crown Avenue set to run another good race in the Class Four Tiu Keng Leng Handicap (1,650m).
Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong has produced Crown Avenue on a one-week back-up over the same course and distance in a race where he maps to get a perfect run.
Last start Schofield was forced to hunt forward from barrier 11, only finding a place outside the lead on the first turn, before a mid-race move put the five-year-old under pressure from the 600m.
Crown Avenue was also shunted three-wide around the home turn, so his effort to finish less than four lengths from swooper Super Form was better than it looks on paper.
Another five-year-old that found form at the tail end of last season, Polymer Luck lines up in the second section of the Tiu Keng Leng Handicap.
Schofield has been aboard in two trials, the last of which was admittedly unimpressive, but it seems the gelding does not appreciate kickback from the all-weather track surface.
Moment Of Power (Karis Teetan) has no such concerns, with the sprinter’s dirt trial on September 8 indicating a big run could be in the offing.
The Paul O’Sullivan-trained five-year-old trialled stylishly, going to the line with top-rated sprinter Mr Stunning.
Moment of Power is an on-pace runner who has performed best when drawn low but drew gates 12, nine, 10 and 10 at his final four starts of last term.
Now he resumes in the Class Three Kwun Tong Handicap (1,200m) with gate two and having dropped three ratings points in the off-season.