A select field of 10 horses will vie for the RM200,000 Malaysia Three-Year-Old Champion Final in Penang this Saturday, with eight of the entries having been winners.

Three heats, one each in Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur, were staged since early May and rather surprisingly, the winner of the first heat, Sakura Japan, is not among the nominees.

Her trainer Charles Leck has instead nominated Char Kway Teow who will be making his Malaysian debut in the 1200m sprint.

Char Kway Teow (Snitzel – Kennilworth by Viscount) had raced twice at two in Australia for a fourth and thrice at three for a second placing over 1600m before coming over to Malaysia last November. After such a long preparation for his debut, could the gelding be Leck’s trump card in the Final?

Relau Star, who ran away with the second heat in Ipoh on 3 June winning by three and a quarter lengths, is the highest rated and most successful of the entries with already six wins to his credit.

After his victory in Ipoh, Relau Star (Captain Sonador – Shovella by Shovhog) took on all-ages and finished second in a Cosmo B event last month. He appears to be the one to beat given his proven record and consistency.

The first five horses past the post in the final heat in Kuala Lumpur just two weeks ago, led by D’Great Supreme, have also made it to the line-up.

D’Great Supreme (O’Reilly – Bronte Walk by Redoute’s Choice) came out of nowhere — he was unplaced in his first three starts — to cause a big upset, beating two last-start winners Step By Step and Bakuteh.

Step By Step (Captain Gerrard – American Morsecode by All Chatter) had raced thrice in Australia for a third and a fourth. He was very impressive in his second start in the country when he made all the running in an Open Maiden event in Kuala Lumpur in May.

Bakuteh (Dick Turpin – Isan Express by Danehill Express) was unbeaten in his first two starts before finishing third in Kuala Lumpur and remains as one of the favourites for the Final.

Super Hard (Raise The Flag – Deliteful Halo by My Halo), who was unplaced in the first heat after two consecutive third-place finishes, struck form at the right time to win easily in an Open Maiden event over 1200m here last week.

Ghost Bank (Dream Ahead – Maimuna by Danewin) has bounced back to form at the right moment to have a crack at the Final.

The Australian gelding has done a lot of racing since the middle of last year — 16 starts in all — and broke through with a win in Restricted Maiden in January.

Dropped from Class 4 to Class 5 after a series of unplaced runs, the gelding made it back to the winner’s circle last week to win over 1100m.

The big question mark in the Final would be if Jutsu (Smart Missile – Rain Shadow by Bianconi) could regain his impressive early form.

The expensive import as a yearling, won his first two starts. A week before the first heat in Penang, the Australian gelding put up one of the best performances of the season when he overcame a very slow start to win drawing away in a Novice event.

Jutsu, however, failed to saddle up a week later. Perhaps it was too much too soon. He has raced twice since, finishing third over 1300m here last month.

Having been freshened up for the Final, Jutsu has only to reproduce his earlier form to have a strong claim.

The 2018 Final is set to be a keenly contested affair and one that will give racing in Malaysia a much needed flip.

The staging of the 3YO Championship is to encourage the importation of quality young horses into the country, boost the horse population, making racing more competitive across the board.

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