Charles The Great in a class of his own
Champion jockey Douglas Whyte has a difficult barrier draw to navigate, but an abundance of speed in the France Galop Cup (1,000m) tonight at Happy Valley should assist him to get Charles The Great home first.
The John Moore-trained three-year-old looks the horse with the most upside and his career so far has been encouraging in that he has won and been placed at his past three, despite plenty going wrong.
Some of that was Charles The Great's own fault, what with overracing and charging, but it speaks volumes for his talent that the gelding has still achieved the results.
When he won three starts back at 1,200m at the Valley, probably not a great deal more could have gone awry. The three-year-old tried to take charge of Jeff Lloyd going to the first turn, then continued to overrace and took himself into trouble rounding the main turn, yet Charles The Great came off the strong tempo to swamp his rivals late.
If he can be settled down to understand and focus on his racing, then tonight's Class Two won't be the last or the best race he will win.
Awkwardly drawn in eight of the 10 barriers, Charles The Great may have to be ridden conservatively early, while the speedy Romantic City, Oriental Prosper and Good Boy Boy engage for the front. Even China Power has been ridden quite aggressively at times and may be again, dropping back to a more suitable 1,000m, and it all reads as suitable for a horse finishing on.
That will be Charles the Great, but it will also be his most obvious danger, El Zonda (Matthew Chadwick).
Never mind where he finished last time down the Sha Tin straight, El Zonda is a one-trick pony - Happy Valley 1,000m - and the Tony Cruz-trained sprinter finished off soundly behind Good Boy Boy at this trip two runs ago when the pace was not as suitable as it might be tonight.
There isn't much wrong with the form of Good Boy Boy (Zac Purton), with four wins at this trip, but the move to the outside gate, a rise in weights and the anticipated pressure all will be against him.