There's more in store for Zezao
Zezao has been one of the turnaround performers from freshman trainer Richard Gibson and he should make it four for the season in the Hong Kong Riding For The Disabled Association Cup (1,000m) today at Sha Tin.
It's a fairly modest assignment for a trophy race, but even that sort of hurdle would have been too much for Zezao (Tim Clark) in his first 25 starts over almost three years under three different trainers.
The gelding managed only two minor placings, and those grudgingly, as his attitude well and truly got the better of what handy ability he had shown overseas and he tumbled from a rating of 81 to the 36 where he sat when he met Gibson mid-season.
Since then, it has been a different story and Zezao has landed three wins and a second from seven starts and even that doesn't do the turnaround full justice as he had vet issues in one run and has been without luck at the most recent two.
Fourth in a 1,200m event after sitting wide, Zezao was finishing off strongly into the money at his most recent run on that wet day at Sha Tin three weeks ago but ran into traffic behind Lifeline Elite.
He managed fifth but would certainly have been closer with clear room, and if anything today's race presents less of an assignment, even from what would normally be an awkward draw in gate five.
The one plus of Zezao's draw is that he has speed horses drawn immediately outside him, Fastplus Hero and Po Ching King, and it seems likely they will drag the field across towards the preferred outside rail.
Clark will get a chance to work over behind the speed horses and his job may become even easier if any of the widest-drawn horses, Impeccable, Flying Together (Mark Zahra) or Happy Yeah Yeah (Tye Angland) elect to make use of their early speed in an effort to hold the outside fence and soften up Fastplus Hero and Po Ching King.
There is enough pressure on the lead for Zezao to finish over them with his light weight, provided he doesn't get too far off them in the run or encounter trouble. The presence of a number of first-starters has added a little spice to the race but it is never an easy task to win on their local debut in Class Three, with most of them not having had a race for a considerable time.
The dangers look to be Happy Yeah Yeah and Flying Together, drawn in the right place and fit with recent racing.
Happy Yeah Yeah has done most of his racing at Happy Valley in an attempt to win the Million Challenge, but there is nothing wrong with his record over short trips at Sha Tin.
A three-time winner this season, he comes back from an unsuitable 1,400m in Class Two to a better fit in a Class Three at 1,000m but pays the price with top weight.
Flying Together has been a difficult one to follow, switching distances and tracks, and he went too fast for his own good over 1,200m when he hadn't raced for two months last start. His better efforts have been at 1,000m and he is fitter.
The number of wins Richard Gibson has racked up in his first season