Three-back on the fence is usually the prime position at Happy Valley with the rail out and that’s where trainer Paul O’Sullivan hopes Never Better and Planet Star will be after the pair came up with low draws at Happy Valley.
Planet Star had his chances hampered by drawing barriers 10 and 12 at his only two starts this season, while Never Better drew gate 12 last start as he stepped up to 1,650m.
This time Planet Star (Sam Clipperton) gets the benefit of gate three on the C course and Never Better (Joao Moreira) gets gate one in the Class Four Hanshin Handicap (1,650m).
“Well, they’ve reversed their draw trend and it’s going to help a lot, they should both be three back on the fence from those barriers,” O’Sullivan said.
Planet Star has got home well from back in the field at his last four starts – each of them over 1,200m at the Valley – but with a better gate, O’Sullivan said his four-year-old should have the early speed to maintain a prominent position.
“When he drew gates last season he ran some fantastic races, and now he is more experienced,” he said.
“He has had a little bit of trouble changing legs at the Valley, but he has cottoned on to it now. The only reservation I have with him is that he might be wanting further than 1,200m soon. In saying that, from the gate he should be fine.”
The Valley’s extended mile is about the distance limit for Never Better so getting a gate where Moreira can conserve energy is crucial.
“I would love them to run a 1,500m race for him, but that might make the starts a little tricky,” the trainer joked. “He is about right handicapped where he is and he just needed that draw. As he has got older he is better suited to 1,650m.”
The stable has seven runners and even though Lamarosa (Umberto Rispoli) is rated an outsider in the Class Three Nakayama Handicap (1,000m), O’Sullivan is still hopeful of a cheeky run from the five-year-old.
“He has had some feet problems and hasn’t raced since March, but he seems fine now and he did win first-up last season so we know he goes well fresh,” O’Sullivan said.
“He has had a couple of trials and in the last one he went quite well. The distance is on the short side for him the key for him will be the speed in the race, if they run along he could be finishing strongly.”