Banner’s ready to unfurl

Jolly Banner is among the Kwangtung Handicap Cup’s smart octet at Sha Tin on Sunday. A consistent performer at the course and distance for trainer Ricky Yiu, the useful bay has four wins from 11 starts at the Sha Tin 1400m, with a further five top three finishes to his credit.

Chad Schofield, with two wins from four rides atop the Lonhro six-year-old, is back in the plate for the first time since March and believes the Australian-bred has plenty going for him.

“I’m happy to be back on him,” he said. “We know he likes to be fresh and that’s what he’ll be on the weekend. He’s drawn a nice gate (four), he’s well-weighted; he’s been carrying some big weights but he won’t have to carry very much at the weekend and he’s had a very impressive trial leading into it.”

That trial, a 1200m all-weather hit-out on 30 August, saw Jolly Banner dash home ahead of the rest.

“When I pulled him to the outside he closed and hit the line very strongly. He looks great, his coat’s shining and he’s fit to run a good a race,” Schofield said.

And the young hoop believes Jolly Banner might have the measure of Winner’s Way, despite finishing a length and two places behind the Cruz runner when fourth in the G3 Premier Cup Handicap last time out. Jolly Banner received 5lb from Winner’s Way on that occasion but on Sunday will carry 9lb less than that rival. And there is a full 15lb turnaround between the two from the race before, at Happy Valley, when Jolly Banner conceded 6lb to the victorious Winner’s Way but had to settle for second, three and a half lengths back.

“He’s got the weight advantage to turn it around and he might have been a bit tired when he met Winner’s Way at Happy Valley,” Schofield observed. “My bloke’s very well, he’s in top form, he’s getting a lot of weight off Winner’s Way, we know how hard he tries and he’ll be there giving his all.”

Jolly Banner, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club