FORTUNE looks to have favoured the David Hall-trained MALDIVES, who has landed the plum inside draw in the competitive Conduit Handicap (2.15pm) over the extended mile at Happy Valley today.
Racing is once again on the dreaded ‘C +3’ track, measuring only just over 19 metres wide and leaving little room for jockeys to manoeuvre when they try to find an ideal position before delivering their challenge down the home straight.
Past statistics point to the inside draw numbers, one and two, having a decided advantage in mile races over the past three seasons, with stall number one leading the way with a 20 per cent strike-rate.
Maldives has been a model of consistency all season, especially at Sha Tin, but his recent effort when third over the course and distance suggests there is still more improvement to come.
Having travelled sweetly into the race on that occasion, he found himself impeded by horses on either side of him and only managed to extract himself when the race was already over.
He wouldn’t have beaten the winner, but can still be rated better than the bare form and is now set for a trouble-free journey.
With his favourite jockey Zac Purton back in the saddle – they have a record of two wins and four places from 10 rides – and the David Hall-Purton partnership already having a 28 per cent win tally this season, the omens are looking good.
With the likes of last month’s course and distance winner Invincible Missile, Oscar Glory and well-handicapped Sky Forever in opposition, this won’t be easy, but bank on Purton to deliver the goods.
The supporting races look evenly matched and tricky, and there are sure to be one or two surprises along the way.
Bearing that in mind, it may pay to take a chance with unpredictable but talented TRIPLE TRIPLE, who takes his chance in the Kotewall Handicap (1.15pm) over six furlongs.
The son of Per Incanto represents the Frankie Lor and Harry Bentley combination, who are both in the middle of purple patches at present.
Lor continues to churn out winners at regular intervals and had another winning treble at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Bentley can’t stop riding winners, with half-a-dozen victories coming since the end of last month.
It’s even better when Lor and Bentley combine, with the partnership presently running at a 20 per cent success rate.
Triple Triple has little to recommend him on recent form, having not been sighted at both the Valley and Sha Tin the last twice, but he did finish a close-up fourth to useful Harmony N Blessed after a tough journey over five furlongs here in October.
Having chased home useful Handsome Bo Bo in better company here last season and now racing three pounds below his last winning mark, there is a feeling that, back over his optimum trip and down in class, he has been ear-marked for this contest.
Triple Triple (e/w) 1.15pm Happy Valley
Maldives 2.15pm Happy Valley