Trainer Paul O’Sullivan is looking to continue his late season revival with help from an unlikely galloper.
The Kiwi’s five-year-old Planet Star looked destined for a dour season in the lower grades before a dramatic form reversal in February saw him become somewhat of a Happy Valley specialist.
O’Sullivan said the four-time winner had learned to relish the 1,200m trip at the city track and he will return again on Wednesday in the Class Three Lamma Island Handicap.
“He has really picked up the last couple of months, he has found his niche around the Valley over 1,200m and has been a very consistent sort of horse,” he said.
“Physically, he has strengthened a lot. He was always a very lightly framed sort of horse but he has muscled up – he has reached his peak now.”
Planet Star had only managed to win twice in his 22-start career before reeling off a victory at Sha Tin in February and backing it up three starts later at Happy Valley up in class.
He was unlucky last month running into a red-hot Loving A Boom but strikes a winnable race on Wednesday night against the likes of Victory Machine, Jolly Convergence and Valiant Dream.
With regular jockey Victor Wong Chun sidelined with serious injuries from a trackwork incident, Matthew Poon Ming-fai takes the reins.
While he has been dealt barrier eight, O’Sullivan said he expected his free-rolling galloper to stick to what he does best.
“He is going to go forward, whether he can cross them from [barrier] eight, we will have to wait and see, but you sense he is the type of horse that likes to be on speed and just keep rolling,” he said.
Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Valiant Dream is another set to feature prominently in the race, with the three-year-old returning after being a beaten $1.5 favourite last month.
Jockey Jack Wong Ho-nam was forced to charge his mount forward from barrier 13 at Sha Tin but is unlikely to have the same difficulty this time around in his Happy Valley debut after drawing barrier seven.
Planet Star is one of just four horses that O’Sullivan will take to the races on Wednesday night, with the Kiwi also saddling up Acclaimed Light, Moment Of Power and Last Kingdom.
Acclaimed Light is looking to go back-to-back in the Class Three Manawatu Racing Club Challenge Trophy (1,650m), while Moment Of Power attempts to make it three wins in four starts in the Class Two Grass Island Handicap (1,000m).
With 23 winners thus far, a solid end to the season will see O’Sullivan finish alongside the likes of Ricky Yiu Poon-fai, Benno Yung Tin-pang, Chris So Wai-yin, Richard Gibson, David Hall and Manfred Man Ka-leung after languishing at the bottom of the table for the first half of the season.