The trainers’ championship just got closer at Sha Tin on Monday and Thursday’s Happy Valley card is crucial to deciding the top trainer of the season.
Caspar Fownes is probably out of the running now and it is left to John Size and Tony Cruz to catch Dennis Yip and, considering Size’s moderate Valley record any winner there is vital.
The Australian has called on Brett Prebble to get Master Sommelier to win a race after he has proved a handful for his jockeys lately. Master Sommelier probably should have been right in the fight when second to Dane Patrol up the straight last time out but this time Douglas Whyte has preferred Danny Shum-trained Perfect Finish in the seventh race.
He is drawn wide while Master Sommelier has a good gate and it may be crucial difference.
In the sixth, Size will be looking for a result from Victorius with Whyte in the saddle as the four-year-old drops back from Class Two to Class Three over 1,000m.
The gelding has disappointed in Class Two and is back to the minimum trip but gets a decent trip from barrier six and should be strong at the finish.
In the final race, Size has Emperor Claudius backing up quickly from a win over the Valley 1800m but he will be tough to beat if he can find the rail from gate six. The former Irish horse has a real penchant for the fence and Gerald Moose knows him well after winning his only ride on the six-year-old last start.
Championship leader Dennis Yip has looked to be struggling for equine talent lately to keep his lead, but has positive chances with All Times Lucky in the first for Tommy Berry, Winning Mascot back in grade in race two and course specialist Ray’s Favourite in race five.
By Nathan Mody