David Hayes labelled it the “best ride he’s done for me since he’s been in Hong Kong” and Zac Purton will need to produce another gem if he’s to again salute aboard Master Montaro in Sunday’s Class Two Swan Handicap (1,400m).
In Master Montaro’s last start on October 1, Purton was able to position the regular back-marker forward of midfield from gate nine, allowing the five-year-old to surge to a comfortable victory, but the Australian has barrier 13 to contend with this time out.
Master Montaro faces a similar array of opponents, with the next four gallopers across the line earlier this month – Beauty Fit, Sea Of Life, Mister Snowdon and Californiadeepshot – eager to turn the tables.
Each of those runners has at least a six-pound weight swing on Master Montaro and all have single-figure draws at their disposal, with Purton knowing it’ll again be up to him to make something happen.
“Last start, he flew the gate and I took advantage of that,” Purton said. “I think he’s got more to give and it would have been nice to have a perfect gate and to have a perfect run, but we have to work with the cards with we’ve been dealt and create some luck.”
Beauty Fit failed to inspire in a sixth at Happy Valley five days after his runner-up effort behind Master Montaro and he has drawn gate nine, with Alexis Badel regaining the ride after Keith Yeung Ming-lun replaced him for the trip to the city circuit.
Sea Of Life crossed the line in third on October 1 and has to make up three lengths, however he was first-up on that occasion and should strip fitter for Sunday’s contest.
Jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu should be able to position Francis Lui Kin-wai’s galloper nicely on the rail behind the speed from gate three as the son of Sebring chases his first Class Two victory.
Mister Snowdon travelled just behind Master Montaro last time out but couldn’t go with him in the straight, a performance that disappointed trainer Douglas Whyte.
“I thought it was slightly below his previous run and I thought he looked like he hit a flat spot and he never really picked up,” the South African said.
Mister Snowdon had recorded a win and a second from two Class Two runs over seven furlongs before that effort and Whyte has resorted to cheek pieces as he looks to sharpen the four-year-old up a touch.
“I’ve done a few slightly different things and let’s hope that makes the difference,” he said. “He’s a horse that does have a look at a few things and I’m just hoping [the cheek pieces] get him a little bit more focused.”
Californiadeepshot has been remarkably consistent over the course and distance, with a win and two seconds before his last-start fifth, and Joao Moreira jumps back aboard the Tony Cruz-trained son of Deep Field.
Bringing new form lines to the field are Rattan – who has his first Class Two run at Sha Tin in over three years – Golden Dash, Highland Fortune and Sunshine Warrior.