Dennis Yip Chor-hong can continue his fast start to the season after the barrier draw went the trainer’s way with three terrific lightweight chances at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Yip is equal third in the trainers’ championship with 11 wins and Generous Heart, Sam’s Love and Starlight all have strong claims after drawing ideal gates.
American-bred Generous Heart sneaked his way into Class Three last season without winning, the game chestnut placing four times in his three-year-old campaign and placing twice in three starts at the Valley.
The smaller track seems to suit Generous Heart more than Sha Tin at this stage, and after an excellent Valley barrier trial early in the season, the sprinter resumed at four with a comprehensive first-up victory.
Generous Heart had dropped back into Class Four and handled his business well but a step up into Class Three for the Tai Tam Handicap (1,200m) should not be a problem.
Zac Purton is suspended and Yip has called on leading local Derek Leung Ka-chun to ride and the booking means Generous Heart will get in three pounds better at the weights.
Had Purton been aboard, Generous Heart would have most likely carried 120 pounds, with the Australian claiming one-pound over, but Leung’s two-pound local allowance means he carries 117.
From barrier three on the B course, Leung can assess the early speed as Purton did last start and allow Generous Heart to find a comfortable spot one-off the rail.
Sam’s Love stormed home on debut at Sha Tin in April to beat Fantastic Eight, a horse who has continued to race well since then.
At his second start, Sam’s Love stepped up to 1,400m and after working hard to lead, looked to have the race wrapped up and kicked away in the straight.
But Sam’s Love faded to finish third and raced like a tired horse third-up when unplaced in July.
The Australian-bred gelding trialled well behind Generous Heart at the Valley on October 7, with Joao Moreira clearly out to educate the four-year-old by taking him back in the field and peeling out late to sprint.
Sam’s Love travelled strongly but should have a stronger speed to tag along behind from barrier four in the Class Three American Club Challenge Cup (1,200m).
It is a competitive contest, as most cup races are, with Fantastic Eight (Umberto Rispoli) and Smart Boy (Chad Schofield) in good form.
Yip’s banner horse this season has been Starship and the five-year-old’s remarkable rise now finds him in the rarefied air of Class Two in the Aberdeen Handicap (1,200m).
Starlight has won three straight this season, four of his past five overall and has jumped 40 ratings points in six months.
Starlight’s wins have all been with something in hand but he now faces some classy individuals, some of whom are also on the up and others who are dropping back after competing in top-grade races.
Schofield replaces Purton and will claim one-pound over the allotted 114 pounds but the key is barrier one, from where Starlight seems assured of as soft a run as possible in transit.
Danny Shum Chap-shing’s debut winner Spotlight Dream (Alexis Badel) gets a first look at the city track but there is a question mark over whether the Irish-bred three-year-old can transfer his first-up form to the turf.
Spotlight Dream raced exclusively on non-turf surfaces in four starts in France and made his debut on Sha Tin’s dirt.
David Hall’s smart type Super Turbo (Brett Prebble) should run a big race first-up but keep a close watch on the horse who finished ahead of him in their recent trial, Archippus (Nash Rawiller).
Meanwhile, apprentice Jack Wong Ho-nam is expected to be out of action for two months with the injuries he suffered in Sunday’s fall at Sha Tin when his mount Malmsteen collapsed in the home straight.
Ho was complaining of lower back pain when he was taken to hospital after the incident in the second-last race and the Jockey Club’s medical officer confirmed the injuries to that region on Monday.
The Jockey Club release stated that Wong will require treatment and physiotherapy “for an extended period”.