Sichuan Boss was an unlucky third last start but a better draw can help the in-form Tony Millard-trained miler bounce back on Wednesday night in the second section of the Class Four Daegu Handicap (1,650m).
After a string of wide draws, Sichuan Boss has jumped from gates 12 and nine at his last two over the same course and distance, the five-year-old gets the benefit of barrier two as racing returns to the tricky C course.
Last start, the tough gate on the C + 3 course meant Sichuan Boss was easy in betting but clearly he could have finished closer, if not won, with a better run.
Jockey Chad Schofield settled the gelding 10th but he was left with few options as the other back-markers began to loop the field early.
Schofield scouted inside but was left crowded for room until the 200m and then saw clear space disappear completely as the gap closed in front him.
At more than 1,250 pounds, Sichuan Boss isn’t the type of horse who is going to pick up and dash over the last 100m and his effort to grind home for third was sound.
Since then, the horses right behind Sichuan Boss have run well, with fourth- and fifth-placegetters Go Go Win and Speedy Wally both placing in a Class Four dirt race two weeks ago, and sixth-placed Grand Harbour doing the same on Saturday.
Sichuan Boss had clearly found his ratings mark and his forte over the Valley’s extended mile, where he has won, placed twice and finished fifth or better in five of his seven starts.
Tommy Berry’s record on the horse is even better – he was aboard for the gelding’s only win three starts back and placed at the start before that.
It will be interesting to see where Berry wants to be in the run, with the race containing an obvious leader in I’m A Witness (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) but a few other horses who can race handy.
When Berry won on Sichuan Boss, he raced in the rear third of the field, but that was because the horse jumped awkwardly and the jockey was left with few options – as has been the case from the wide draws.
Earlier in the season, Sichuan Boss was able to lead from barrier one and run a decent race and while Berry won’t want to be that aggressive, with a good start he won’t be dictated to by tempo either.
Coming out of the same race as Sichuan Boss and drawn barrier three in the first section of the Class Four Daegu Handicap (1,650m) is Money Winner.
The Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained five-year-old has been in consistent form this season and was second to Charity Wings, just in front of Sichuan Boss, last time out.
Money Winner went within a nose of breaking through over the course and distance three starts ago and has run two more solid races since.
That consistent course and distance record should continue here, although the horse Joao Moreira has jumped off Money Winner to ride, Jolly Gains, looks hard to beat.
Jolly Gains had to make a long and sustained sprint from near the tail of the field last time out as Brett Prebble dictated from the front on Contribution.
The same situation could occur on Wednesday, with Contribution the likely leader again, but this time Jolly Gains meets his rival four pounds better off.
Earlier in the night, Sam’s Love (Umberto Rispoli) looms as an intriguing runner in the Class Four Incheon Handicap (1,200m).
Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong has entered the four-year-old on a quick back-up after he flashed home for third behind Gracious Ryder and Aerohappiness at Sha Tin on Saturday.