Mile is perfect for Moore's Smart Giant
John Moore will hand over his trainers' championship to John Size this afternoon at Sha Tin, but the season has otherwise been another successful one for him and he can wind it up with Smart Giant winning the feature, the Sha Tin Mile Trophy (1,600m).
Moore will again finish as the leading stakes winner by a considerable margin over Size, and will just about hit the HK$106 million mark he had recently suggested as his goal.
Smart Giant (Brett Prebble) has been a good part of that total, winning twice and earning some minor Group race prize money along the way.
He didn't quite measure up to winning the four-year-old classic events but he wasn't disgraced either, and Moore wisely freshened him up after the Derby, when Smart Giant was showing a few signs of distress. But the gelding showed last start that he has bounced after the break, finishing 10th up the straight in an unsuitably short 1,000m event behind Blaze King.
Drawn the wrong side of the track in gate two, he was outpaced to the rear of the field early and through the middle stages, but he was just starting to find his legs in the final stages and the official sectional times show that he closed off in 21.88 seconds.
Returning to a more appropriate distance, Smart Giant should be wherever the pace dictates as he has shown plenty of tactical speed at these trips in the past.
Penglai Xianzi looks a ready-made leader coming down from gate 11, with Real Specialist (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) likely to follow him across from the outside. Turf Express, Military Move and Keen Marie (Mark du Plessis) also have the speed at this trip to lay up close, but the latter might be ridden a touch conservatively jumping from sprints to the mile.
Prebble has all the options from barrier four and that should see Smart Giant in the ideal trailing spot to the home turn.
Like any race at this end of the season, there are plenty of queries on whether horses have that one more effort in them, and that is the question mark over Chater Way (Zac Purton), who looks a real danger if his last run can be overlooked.
Taken back from a wide draw at 1,400m, he didn't seem to appreciate a speed that was stop-start and ran poorly in Class Two, but his form prior was good enough to be competitive.
A return to 1,600m suits, as does a drop in the weights and a better draw but it will come down to whether his last run was a signal that he is done for the campaign.
In an open race, it would be hard to knock the credentials of Real Specialist, looking for his fifth win of the season. He looked good winning over 1,400m last time but enjoyed all favours from a low gate.
He switches from Tye Angland to apprentice Ng, goes form gate one to gate 14 and will likely have to do the chasing up to the free-running Penglai Xianzi. So he has a few things against him but he has never put a foot wrong in races within his distance range.
The winning strike rate for Brett Prebble and John Moore