Luke Middlebrook – Group racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday with the running of the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy over 1600m, which is run under handicap conditions.
No doubt, Joao Moreira will be looking to claw his way back in the jockeys’ premiership after Zac Purton took advantage of Moreira’s one-meeting suspension on Wednesday night.
Purton will start Sunday’s Sha Tin card with a handy three-win lead in the title race after landing a three-timer at the AWT meeting on Wednesday. Moreira boasts a full book of 11 rides to Purton’s nine on Sunday.
Meanwhile, trainer Tony Cruz says he will “give it a go” – referring to a shot at the trainers’ championship, after landing a treble on Wednesday night. Cruz now stands Ricky Yiu six wins on 51 for the term.
The two-time champion trainer had not had a single win on the dirt track this term, and, in fact, had not won a dirt race in three years with anything except the retired King Genki. That was until Beauty Loyal, Party Everyday and California Concord snapped his run of outs on the alternative racing surface.
Derby-winning jockey, Vincent Ho, who has had a quiet month in the saddle with just two winners – one at Happy Valley last week and doubling that on Wednesday night aboard the well-backed Thou Shall Sing – could capitalise with a sound book of rides on Sunday to see the month out with a bang.
Ho partners smart-looking debutant Winning Dreamer in the Class 4 1000m dash in Race 3, the three-year-old trialling the house down on multiple occasions, both locally and abroad in New Zealand. The Frankie Lor-trained gelding has plenty of natural toe, so expect to see him hard up on the pace and there fighting out the finish.
Ho partners with leading trainer Ricky Yiu twice on the day; Fighter Boy in the Class 4 1200m in Race 5, who could be an improver off some better barrier trials, and Natural Storm in the Class 4 2000m in Race 7, who looks primed to score after a cracking run into second over 1800m 22 days ago. The three-year-old was unlucky that day after being held up from the 400m to the 300m, but did great work late and off that, looks ready to win.
Ho will also steer last-start winner over Beauty Generation, Southern Legend in the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy. Southern Legend remains the one to beat in Sunday’s feature, but returning to handicap conditions where he will lump top weight of 60.5kg will be his biggest hurdle.