Longwah Supreme can make amends
It has been a season that got away from Longwah Supreme, but the four-year-old gets his chance to break back into the winner's circle in the Members Cup (1,200m) at Sha Tin today.
Take your mind back to the early days of the term and Longwah Supreme looked to have nothing but blue sky ahead, carrying on from his two unbeaten runs last season to win first-up over King Mossman and Captain Sweet like he was headed for the top classes.
The first sign that all wasn't progressing to plan was his defeat without excuse behind Bullish Champion in November, and not long afterwards Longwah Supreme was switched from Michael Chang Chun-wai to Caspar Fownes.
Disappointments followed - sensationally backed over 1,400m on New Year's Day, the gelding was well beaten in a black-type race, then equally disappointing runs followed in the Classic Mile and a 1,650m Class One at Happy Valley in February.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, Longwah Supreme must take some of the blame. The greenness he showed early was seen more as an indicator of the improvement to come than as a vice, but the gelding failed to learn and throw off his awkward manners and keenness, which came against him in the stronger events.
Fownes tinkered with his gear but Longwah Supreme continued to throw his head about and act the fool. Starting again looks to have been the best course of action.
Now he returns from a good break, drops back into Class Two where he has already been effective and Fownes has taken Longwah Supreme (Zac Purton) back to the 1,200m course where he has won three of four.
And his gear is back to the blinkers and tongue tie that he wore in those first three runs that seem so long ago now.
A recent trial showed Longwah Supreme to be in form and, even with the 133-pound top weight, he is going to run very well today.
It is the weight factor that provides Longwah Supreme's major danger, with the John Size-trained Adoration pitched into the race with only 115 pounds after Ben So Tik-hung's allowance.
Adoration is another who has tried his hand at a few things this season without winning, most of them being attempts at longer distances that often haven't looked to suit the son of Catbird.
Today, he too is back to the 1,200m trip at Sha Tin where he has had four attempts for two wins and two seconds last season, and he comes off a useful effort at his latest outing to show that he is in form.
Although offset to some extent by a soft tempo, his three-wide trip behind Nice Folks was no help to Adoration in Class Three, and he stuck on well for second.
An interesting newcomer is Fat Choy Hong Kong (Mark du Plessis) from the Dennis Yip Chor-hong camp. He had a reasonably busy two-year-old career in the UK as Tell Dad and looked better than handy in registering three wins and five placings from 10 starts.
He is by Intikhab, the same stallion as the owners' former Queen Mother Memorial Cup winner, Fat Choy Ichiban, so he might be expected to want ground later, but he has had a solid preparation for his debut.
The winning strike rate Zac Purton and Caspar Fownes have registered as a team